C/2024 G3 (ATLAS): Brightest Comet of 2025?

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In January 2025, comet C/2024 G3 (ATLAS) will get closest to the Sun and might reach naked-eye visibility. According to some estimates, it may even become visible during the daytime! But don’t get your hopes too high yet. Read on to learn whether you’ll be able to see the comet.


Comet C/2024 G3 (ATLAS): General info

  • Type: non-periodic comet
  • Orbital period: unknown
  • Perihelion: January 13, 2025
  • Closest approach to Earth: January 13, 2025
  • Predicted maximum brightness: 0.6
  • Best visible from: Southern Hemisphere

Comet C/2024 G3 (ATLAS) was discovered on April 5, 2024, by the ATLAS astronomical survey. Judging by its orbit, it might be a dynamically new comet, which means it enters the inner Solar System for the first time.

C/2024 G3 (ATLAS) orbit
The orbit of comet C/2024 G3 (ATLAS).

The name of the comet contains data about its type, date of discovery, and discoverer:

  • The letter “C” denotes a non-periodic comet. Such comets either pass through the Solar System only once or take more than 200 years to complete an orbit around the Sun.
  • The designation “2024 G3” indicates that the comet was discovered in the first half of April 2024 and was the third comet discovered during that period.
  • “ATLAS” signifies that the discovery was made by the astronomical survey called Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System (ATLAS).

Want to know about other upcoming bright comets? Read our article!

When and how to observe C/2024 G3 (ATLAS)

Comets are typically brightest at perihelion when they are closest to the Sun. Comet C/2024 G3 will reach perihelion on January 13, 2025 (it will be located in the constellation Sagittarius). At that moment, it will be passing at a distance of only 0.094 AU from the Sun and could brighten to a magnitude of 0.6. This means it might become visible to the naked eye, like the famous comet NEOWISE in 2020. However, astronomers are skeptical about this perspective at the moment.

Path of Comet C/2024 G3 (ATLAS)
The path of C/2024 G3 (ATLAS) in the sky.

Will we be able to see Comet C/2024 G3 (ATLAS)?

Here are a few factors that may prevent us from observing the comet.

  • The comet might not survive perihelion. First, C/2024 G3 is a sungrazing comet: it will pass extremely close to the Sun at perihelion and might fragment or completely evaporate. Second, its absolute magnitude (about 9.0) is below the Bortle limit for the survival of a comet after approaching the Sun. Third, as we mentioned before, comet C/2024 G3 (ATLAS) might be visiting the inner Solar System for the first time, and such comets typically have a higher risk of disintegrating.
  • Even if C/2024 G3 survives perihelion, it will have a solar elongation of only about 5 degrees at the time. This means the comet will be positioned near the Sun in the sky and will be hard to observe.
Elongation of C/2024 G3 (ATLAS)
Elongation of comet C/2024 G3 (ATLAS) at perihelion. Source: Sky Tonight astronomy app.
  • C/2024 G3 (ATLAS) will be very difficult to observe from the Northern Hemisphere, and in the Southern Hemisphere, it will become visible in the dark sky only about a week after perihelion — by then, the comet will likely have dimmed significantly. We can only hope that the comet will be so bright that it will be visible in the daytime sky!
Visibility of C/2024 G3 (ATLAS)
Visibility of C/2024 G3 (ATLAS) in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.

Nevertheless, C/2024 G3 (ATLAS) is an interesting object, and we’ll definitely be keeping a close eye on it. While waiting for the news about the comet, take our quiz about the brightest comets in history.

Great Comets
What do comets have to do with Cognac and the American Civil War? 🥃A lot more than you'd think! Our quiz is packed with fun facts about the Great Comets. Get ready for a fun ride through time with these flashy space travelers! ☄️
Take the quiz!

Is Comet C/2024 G3 (ATLAS) visible now?

Currently, comet C/2024 G3 (ATLAS) is very faint — with a magnitude of about 18, it is probably visible only through large professional telescopes. However, you can use the Sky Tonight app to learn where the comet is located right now and where it will be in the future. Type the comet’s name in the search bar, tap the target icon next to the matching result, and you'll see the comet's location on the sky map. Use the Time Machine slider in the upper part of the screen to see how the comet’s position changes from month to month.

Comet C/2024 G3 (ATLAS): Bottom line

While Comet C/2024 G3 (ATLAS) has the potential to become a spectacular sight in January 2025, its fate remains uncertain. The comet’s close approach to the Sun might result in it brightening to naked-eye visibility or disintegrating completely. Regardless of the final outcome, C/2024 G3 offers an exciting opportunity for astronomers and stargazers alike to witness a new comet making its first journey through the inner Solar System. We'll keep you updated with the latest observations and forecasts as the comet approaches the Sun, so stay tuned!