British Astronomical Association
&
Society for Popular Astronomy
Comet Section


Latest Discoveries

Mar 19  Discovery of 2015 D6 (P/Lemmon-PanSTARRS) announced
Mar 19  Worachate Boonplod reports a Kreutz group comet in real time C3 images
Mar 20  Recovery of 2010 K2 (P/WISE) as 2015 B3 announced
Mar 20  Worachate Boonplod reports a Kreutz group comet in real time C3 images
Mar 24  Worachate Boonplod reports a Kreutz group comet in real time C3 images
Mar 25  New comet found in SWAN images
Mar 25  Bo Zhou reports a Kreutz group comet in real time C3 images
Mar 26  Discovery of 2015 F1 (P/PanSTARRS) announced
Mar 26  Discovery of 2015 F2 (Polonia) announced
Mar 27  New SWAN comet designated 2015 F3
Mar 28  Szymon Liwo reports a Kreutz group comet in real time C3 images
Mar 28  Bo Zhou reports a Kreutz group comet in real time C3 images
Mar 30  Trygve Prestgard reports a Kreutz group comet in real time C2 images
Mar 31  Discovery of 2015 F4 (Jacques) announced
Apr 01  Bo Zhou reports a Kreutz group comet in real time C3 images
Apr 02  Recovery of 1994 N2 (P/McNaught-Hartley) as 2014 M6 announced
Apr 04  Worachate Boonplod reports a Meyer group comet in real time C2 images
Apr 05  Zhijian Xu reports a Kreutz group comet in real time C3 images
Apr 05  Zhijian Xu reports a Kreutz group comet in real time C2 images
Apr 06  Worachate Boonplod reports a Kreutz group comet in real time C3 images
Apr 06  Zhijian Xu reports a Kreutz group comet in real time C2 images
Apr 06  Worachate Boonplod reports a Kreutz group comet in real time C2 images
Apr 07  Bo Zhou reports a Kreutz group comet in real time C2 images
Apr 07  Worachate Boonplod, Szymon Liwo and Zhijian Xu report a non-group comet in real time C2 images
Apr 08  Worachate Boonplod reports a Kreutz group comet in real time C3 images
Apr 09  Recovery of 2008 S1 (P/Catalina-McNaught) as 2015 G1 announced
Apr 09  Zhijian Xu and Worachate Boonplod report a Meyer group comet in real time C2 images
Apr 09  Worachate Boonplod reports a Kreutz group comet in real time C2 images
Apr 10  Trygve Prestgard reports a Kreutz group comet in real time C2 images
Apr 10  Discovery of 2015 F5 (SWAN-Xingming)announced
Apr 10  Discovery of 2015 G2 (MASTER) announced
Apr 11  Worachate Boonplod reports a Kreutz group comet in real time C3 images
Apr 12  Zhijian Xu reports a Kreutz group comet in real time C3 images
Apr 12  Worachate Boonplod and Salil Mulye report a Kreutz group comet in real time C2 images
Apr 12  Zhijian Xu reports a Kreutz group comet in real time C3 images
Apr 13  Bo Zhou reports a Kreutz group comet in real time C2 images
Apr 14  Worachate Boonplod reports a Kreutz group comet in real time C3 images
Apr 15  Worachate Boonplod reports a Kreutz group comet in real time C2 images
Apr 15  Trygve Prestgard reports a Kreutz group comet in real time C2 images
Apr 16  Update

If there have been no recent updates try The German comet group page or Seiichi Yoshida's page for information or the Liga Iberoamericana de Astronomia for observations.


Elsewhere on these pages: Highlights / Newly discovered comets / Periodic comets / Contributing observations / Comet Ephemerides / Upcoming Comets / Observing Comets / Current meteor showers / Links / Meetings / IWCA / IWCA III home page / Publications / Comments and Contacts / Old 2015 News / SPA News / Comet discovery procedure / Weather information / The Comet's Tale / More information

Current comet magnitudes (April 16) and observable region (April 16)

Comet	                  Magnitude   Trend    Observable     When visible        Last visual observation
Lovejoy (2014 Q2)              7      fade     65 N to 15 N   all night           2015 April
MASTER (2015 G2)               8.5    bright   30 N to 85 S   morning             2015 April
SWAN-Xingming (2015 F5)        8.5    fade     65 N to 35 N   evening + dawn      2015 April
88P/Howell                     9      fade     30 N to 85 S   morning             2015 April
SWAN (2015 C2)                 9.5    steady   Poor elongation                    2015 March
SWAN (2015 F3)                10      fade     65 N to 20 N   all night           2015 April
19P/Borelly                   10.5 ?  bright   Conjunction                        Not yet observed
SOHO (2015 D1)                11      fade     65 N to 15 N   evening             2015 March
Catalina (2013 US10)          12 ?    bright    0 S to 85 S   morning             2014 November
PanSTARRS (2014 Q1)           12 ?    bright   Poor elongation                    Not yet observed
15P/Finlay                    12      fade     50 N to  5 S   dusk                2015 February
10P/Tempel                    12.5 ?  bright   60 N to 55 S   best morning        Not yet observed
Siding Spring (2013 A1)       12.5 ?  fade     65 N to 10 S   all night           2014 November
Tenagra (2013 C2)             12.5    outburst 40 N to 85 S   best evening        2015 March
PanSTARRS (2012 K1)           13      fade     Poor elongation                    2014 December
29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann      13 ?    varies   30 N to 85 S   best morning        2014 October
22P/Kopff                     13.5 ?  bright   60 N to 50 S   best evening        Not yet observed
Borisov (2014 R1)             13.5 ?  fade     40 N to 70 S   morning             2014 November
Oukaimeden (2013 V5)          13.5 ?  fade     65 N to 25 S   all night           2014 October
PanSTARRS (2012 F3)           13.5 ?  steady   45 N to 70 S   morning             2014 May
32P/Comas Sola                14      fade     65 N to 30 S   best evening        2015 March
PanSTARRS (2014 W11)          14      steady   45 N to 30 S   evening             2015 March
The observable region is an approximate indication of the latitude at which the comet may be seen. Under good conditions comets may be visible outside this range. The period when visible is for the UK if the comet is visible from the UK, otherwise for 40 S or the Equator as appropriate.  The last visual observation is as received by the Section, details are often updated on the basis of observations published elsewhere.   Details are normally updated at the beginning and middle of each month, but may be updated more frequently for bright comets.  Beginners will often find comets fainter than about 7th magnitude difficult to locate - see below for information on positions and finder charts.

Highlights and News

  1. Details of two new comets were announced on April 10.  One is relatively close to the Sun but is potentially observable from the UK.  The other is better placed, but will not become visible from the UK, although it could reach 6th magnitude.
  2. A European Comet Meeting will be held in Ondrejov, near Prague, Czech Republic from June 6 -7.
  3. Do sign up to the Rosetta amateur campaign.  See also the information provided under Rosetta.
  4. 2014 Q2 (Lovejoy) is still visible in binoculars.  The comet is past its brightest, but is running over two magnitudes brighter than predicted compared to before perihelion.  It looks like a small fuzzy patch of light and is becoming more diffuse.  It should remain a binocular object for another month or so.  See the BAA Computing Section online charts for detailed finder maps, though these work better for fainter comets.  
  5. Distant comet 2013 C2 (Tenagra) brightened significantly during February.  Observations from Kevin Hills give a normal magnitude of around 18, but during February it rose to 15th magnitude with Marco Goiato giving a visual estimate of 14 at the end of the month.  He reported it at 12th magnitude in mid March.
  6. Magnitude analyses were updated on April 16, and included an additional observation of 2013 US10:   Electronic and visual observations of 2013 US10 currently predict a peak aperture corrected magnitude of around 2.   UK observers won't get to see the comet until after perihelion in 2015 November.   Electronic observations by Kevin Hills suggest that 2014 Q1 has a relatively faint absolute magnitude and its rate of brightening was slowing as it got closer to perihelion.  
  7. Thanks to the many observers who have sent in their observations in ICQ format.  Imagers are encouraged to reduce their observations to equivalent visual magnitude and submit them in this format.  Do check the observation files (updated March 3) to see if what you sent matches what is there, as I still have to edit some of the submitted records, particularly the positioning of the DC and the position of "m" when tail length is given in minutes.  If your observations are missing it may be because you have not used the correct format, which includes ICQ as a key.
  8. Selected recent images are displayed in the BAA Comet Gallery.  The full BAA Comet Section image archive is updated whenever images are sent to <cometobs [at] britastro.org> or are received by Denis Buczynski <buczynski8166 [at] btinternet.com>  
  9. Roger Dymock continues to develop his Project Alcock website, with updates posted regularly.  Observers submitting images are encouraged to reduce their images and provide the data in ICQ format for use in analysis.  
  10. The Planetary Science Institute have a facility for enhancing coma images
  11. Jon's Blog [Updated November 14]

Details


Comet ephemerides (positions) etc

The following ephemerides for currently observable comets brighter than 11th magnitude, each for two months, use orbital elements courtesy of the CBAT. Observable limits are for the UK unless stated otherwise. All ephemerides give B1950 and J2000 positions. Modern star charts use J2000, but older atlases will use B1950. Ephemerides were updated as indicated (mm/dd) following the comet name. Longer period ephemerides are given for planning purposes for comets that may reach binocular brightness. All are for the UK. The predicted magnitudes are extremely uncertain.

Planning aids and information for forthcoming comets

  • Rosetta
  • Comets reaching within three degrees of 180 opposition [updated 2013 December 31]
  • Comets reaching within three degrees of zero phase angle [updated 2013 December 31]

An explanation of the information in the ephemerides is given here. The following magnitude parameters, last updated 2015 April 16, are used in the ephemerides, but note that ephemerides are not updated every time the magnitude parameters are.

The following lists [updated 2015 April 1] give the ephemeris details, including the approximate current magnitude and local visibility for all the comets in the CBAT list for the UK, the equator and 40 south. CCD observers should try and observe any comets that have not recently been observed according to the CBAT but which are expected to be within range of their equipment. Negative observations are also useful.

For positions of newly discovered comets see the NEO confirmation page . You can also generate your own ephemerides and elements at the CBAT Minor Planet and Comet Ephemeris Service web page.  The elements and ephemerides from the JPL Small-Body Database Browser give estimates of the errors, which are often far larger than might be thought from the accuracy of the elements given by the CBAT.  Seiichi Yoshida has pages for currently visible comets, which include finder charts. Seiichi also has a comet rendezvous page, which lists conjunctions between comets, variable stars and nebulae and a comet recovery page, which lists periodic comets not yet recovered at the present return. The T3 project aims to discover comets amongst the population of asteroids influenced by Jupiter. Following a hack at the MPC, MPECs etc are now available at this site

Finder charts

The BAA Computing Section has online charts for the comets listed here. There are daily finder charts for bright comets at Heavens Above. Reinder Bouma and Edwin van Dijk's astrosite Groningen has an excellent set of finder charts for brighter comets.

A plot of recent search areas by professional teams looking for NEOS.

Orbits etc

You can generate your own ephemerides and list of orbital elements at the CBAT Minor Planet and Comet Ephemeris Service web page. The MPC also has a list of the last observation for all comets. In addition, the MPC has orbital elements for unusual asteroids, many of which have cometary orbits. The 2009 edition of the CBAT comet catalogue is available. Full details of the latest orbits are available from Kazuo Kinoshita's Comet Orbit Home Page.  Orbital elements in Megastar format for: periodic comets , current comets , comets prior to 2000.  Most of the more recent elements include the latest magnitude parameters.  The elements are from a mix of CBAT catalogues, MPC, MPEC and individual computers.

Downloads etc

Download the January 2015 newsletter, which has a report of an RAS meeting, an article on Rosetta, plus the usual reviews and forecasts.  

Download Richard Fleet's GraphDark software for graphically displaying comet (and other object) visibility. Latest version is 2.05, 2007 May.

Download William Schwittek's CometWin software for generating comet ephemerides and visibility diagrams. [Updated 2002 March 5]

Download Solex, N-body solar system dynamics software.


Upcoming comets

Predictions for the comets expected to return in 2014 , 2015 and 2016 are published in the BAA Journal in December each year [2016 updated 2015 April 1]. This list [Updated 2015 April 1] gives the period of visibility and maximum brightness for comets that are predicted to be visible within the next couple of years. A few are listed further into the future. Seiichi Yoshida also has a list of comets likely to be visible in the next five years.

Contributing observations

Observations may  be used in the reports on comets which appear on these pages, in The Comet's Tale and in the BAA Journal.

Images should be sent to Denis Buczynski at <cometobs [at] britastro.org> or to his personal email at <buczynski8166 [at] btinternet.com>.  We would be particularly pleased to receive drawings, as well as CCD images and photographs.  If you are submitting images, please use the standard name format for naming your files, for example 2001q4_20040515_shanklin.jpg. 

Visual observations should be sent to me at <jds [at] ast.com.ac.uk> in simple text format.  Visual observers can use the BAA visual report form to log observations.  To avoid the use of multiple formats the ICQ format is now standardised as the one to use for submission and archiving of observations, however the ICQ have not updated their observation keys since 2010.  These additional keys are suggested for use when submitting observations to the BAA (updated 2015 February 1).  Observations will continue to be published by Guy Hurst in The Astronomer magazine in TA format. There is also a visual drawing form.   I have written a data entry program that creates a file with data in the ICQ format which you can send to me by email. It now runs under Windows and is available as a self extracting zip file. [New version, 2004 February 2]. I have also written a program to convert from ICQ to TA format. 

The German comet group also has a computer program that will correctly format observations for the ICQ [2009 December]. Crni Vhr Observatory has launched the Comet Observation Database which allows entry of observations in ICQ format, and plots of light curves. The ICQ format uses special keys to code observation particulars. 

Regular contributors include James Abbott, Jose Aguiar, Alexander Amorim, Nicolas Biver, Denis Buczynski, Paul Camilleri, Matyas Csukas, Roger Dymock, John Fletcher, Marco Goiato, Juan Gonzalez, Bjorn Granslo, Kevin Hills, Nick James, Werner Hasubick, Heinz Kerner, Carlos Labordena, Rolando Ligustri, Michael Mattiazzo, Maik Mayer, Antonio Milani, Martin Mobberley, Gabriel Oksa, Mieczyslaw  Paradowski, Stuart Rae, Walter Robledo, Tony Scarmato, Willian Souza, David Strange and Seiichi Yoshida, several of whom contribute observations from their colleagues.

Warning I receive a large number of emails containing viruses or other junk. Please try and make clear that your message is legitimate, otherwise it may be deleted without being read. It is advisable to use your own name, rather than an alias, in the 'from' field and use an obvious, recent subject.


Comments and contact

Many thanks to those that regularly access this page for your interest. If you have any comments, suggestions for improvement or find any problems, please email the comet section director, Jon Shanklin, at j.shanklin @ bas.ac.uk. If you need to phone me, my home number is +44 (0)1223 571250 or my BAS number is +44 (0)1223 221482. Snail mail will reach me at the British Antarctic Survey, Madingley Road, CAMBRIDGE CB3 0ET, England. For information about my work with BAS see my web page at BAS.


Published by jds@ast.cam.ac.uk