COMET NEWS



The best site for up-to-date comet viewing information is Seichi Yosida’s comet site here: http://www.aerith.net/comet/weekly/current.html

The screen shot below is the current posting from that site (used with permission) and shows comets above magnitude 12 or so that are presently in the sky. More details (including finder charts) about one or more of the comets (some possibly within binocular range) are provided below the table.

Screen Shot 2019-02-18 at 8.56.19 PM




Comet Wirtanen fades to 9th magnitude but try for Iwamoto.

Comet C/2018 Y1 (Iwamoto)


Masayuki Iwamoto discovered this comet, solo, on Dec 18, 2018 from Japan at 12th magnitude and it is slated to brighten to 7th magnitude by the beginning of March or so. Currently at magnitude 8.2 (Feb 2) it should brighten rapidly to its peak predicted 7th magnitude (and hopefully a bit brighter) in the next few weeks. The comet rises in the SE just before midnight and is currently between Virgo and Corvus, but by Feb 13 it will have moved into the head of Leo the Lion. Here is an EarthSky.org report on Comet C/2018 Y1: C/2018 Y1. (includes an image). Finder chart below. Click for copy.

Iwamoto-Feb-18-Mar18



Comet 46/P Wirtanen in Jan/Feb 2019

Comet 46/P Wirtanen has past its prime and has now drops to around magnitude 9 and continues to fade. (Chart below is for Jan 13 to Feb 20). It was visible in binoculars and telescopes and was observed by several BAS members in late December. It continues to be circumpolar and high in the sky in January and February but is tough target at such a low brightness and virtually impossible if there is any moonlight. Click on the chart below to download a copy.

Wirtanen Jan 13 to mid-Feb
Comet Wirtanen finder chart created in Starry Night Pro 6





New Comet discovered by PanSTARRS waaaaaayyy out there beyond Saturn! [One to look forward to in 2022]

A brand new comet has been spotted by the Hubble Space Telescope, and remarkably, even though it is still far enough away from the Sun that its water ice would be as hard as rock, it is already showing signs of activity.
That makes this new comet, called C/2017 K2 (PANSTARRS), or just K2 for short, the farthest active comet astronomers have ever seen - at a distance of 2.4 billion kilometres from the Sun, which is beyond the orbit of Saturn.
Discovered in May in 2017, using Hawaii's Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (Pan-STARRS), astronomers used the Hubble Space Telescope to get a better look at "K2".
Hubble revealed that the comet's coma - the gassy, dusty "atmosphere" that surrounds the comet's solid nucleus - was already around 115,000 km across. That's roughly the diameter of the planet Saturn! Closest approach to the Sun is predicted for 2022.

Read more about it here:
Comet K2 (PanSTARRS)

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Our Next Great Comet is OVERDUE!

Tim Reyes writes for EarthSky.org. One of his recent excellent articles is called
"When is Our Next Great Comet?" An interesting read! [Maybe it will be Comet C/2017 K2 PanSTARRS , see above].