British Astronomical Association

Comet Section

Director: Nick James

Visual observations page


(Co-ordinator Jonathan Shanklin)

Latest Discoveries

Oct 16  Discovery of 2019 T1 (A/PanSTARRS) reported
Oct 16  Discovery of 2019 T2 (A/Lemmon) reported
Oct 16  Discovery of 2019 T3 (ATLAS) reported
Oct 21  Worachate Boonplod reports a Kreutz group comet in real time C3 images
Oct 22  Discovery of 2019 T4 (ATLAS) reported
Oct 23  Discovery of 2019 T5 (P/ATLAS) reported
Oct 23  Rainer Kracht reports a non-group comet in real time C2 images
Oct 23  Masanori Uchina reports a Kreutz group comet in real time C2 images
Oct 23  Trygve Prestgard reports a Kreutz group comet in real time C2 images
Oct 24  Discovery of 2019 T6 (P/PanSTARRS) reported
Oct 25  Recovery of 2006 W1 (P/Gibbs) as 2019 U1 reported
Oct 26  Recovery of 2006 F1 (P/Kowalski) by Kevin Hills as 2019 U2 reported
Oct 27  Masanori Uchina reports a Kreutz group comet in real time C2 images
Oct 28  Recovery of 2004 WR9 (P/LINEAR) as 2019 U3 reported
Oct 28  Discovery of 2019 U4 (P/PanSTARRS) reported
Oct 29  Worachate Boonplod reports a Kreutz group comet in real time C3 images
Oct 30  Worachate Boonplod reports a Kreutz group comet in real time C3 images
Nov 01  Discovery of 2019 U5 (A/PanSTARRS) reported
Nov 02  Brent Ball reports a Kreutz group comet in real time C2 images
Nov 02  Worachate Boonplod reports a Kreutz group comet in real time C2 images
Nov 03  Worachate Boonplod reports a Kreutz group comet in real time C2 images
Nov 04  Worachate Boonplod reports a Meyer group comet in real time C2 images
Nov 05  Rainer Kracht reports a Meyer group comet in real time C2 images
Nov 06  Worachate Boonplod reports a non-group comet in real time C3 images
Nov 08  Masanori Uchina reports a Kreutz group comet in real time C2 images
Nov 08  Discovery of 2019 V1 (Borisov) reported
Nov 08  Discovery of 2019 U6 (A/Lemmon) reported
Nov 09  Masanori Uchina reports a Kreutz group comet in real time C2 images
Nov 12  Recovery of 2009 SK280 (P/Spacewatch-Hill) as 2019 S5 reported
Nov 13  Worachate Boonplod reports a Kreutz group comet in real time C3 images
Nov 13  Masanori Uchina reports a Kreutz group comet in real time C2 images
Nov 14  Worachate Boonplod reports a Kreutz group comet in real time C2 images
Nov 15  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 / Links / Meetings / Publications / Comments and Contacts / Old 2019 News / Comet discovery procedure / Weather information / The Comet's Tale / BAA Comet Section image archive / Project Alcock / More information / Legacy page / Main BAA Comet Section page

Comet magnitudes and observable region on November 2

Comet	                  Magnitude   Trend    Observable     When visible        Last visual observation
PanSTARRS (2017 T2)           10      bright   90 N to 40 S   best morning        2019 October
ASASSN (2018 N2)              11.5    steady   90 N to 30 S   best evening        2019 October
Africano (2018 W2)            11.5    fade     25 N to 60 S   best evening        2019 October
68P/Klemola                   11.5    steady   50 N to 55 S   early evening       2019 October
260P/McNaught                 12      fade     90 N to 15 S   all night           2019 October
289P/Blanpain                 12 ?    bright   40 N to 60 S   best evening        Not yet observed
29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann      13 ?    varies   80 N to 50 S   best evening        2019 October

Partial updates:  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.   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. Comet  2017 T2 is coming within range of binocular observation.  October observations continue to show that visual observers estimate the comet brighter than do those taking images.  Visual observers using large apertures see the comet as fainter than those using small apertures.  The likely peak brightness suggested by using all the observations (visual and electronic) is easy binocular visibility.  It is visible in the late evening sky and will remain well placed for observation until 2020 October.  When at its best it will be a northern hemisphere object and circumpolar from the UK.  The latest light curve is shown below and the magnitude given above is based on the mean light curve. 
  2. The Section welcomes observations from all comet enthusiasts, whether members of the BAA or not.  An advantage of joining the BAA is that you can read papers on comets published in the BAA Journal.  The 2019 June Journal included a paper on "The brighter comets of 2014".  Further papers in this series are in press (2015 - 2017).
  3. 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 (see Project Alcock ) and submit them in this format.  Do check the observation files (updated November 2) to see if what you sent matches what is there, as I still have to edit some of the submitted records, particularly the position of "m" when tail length is given in minutes, the focal ratio and the designation of periodic comets 1-99.  If your observations are missing it may be because you have not used the correct format, which includes ICQ as a key.  If you use the Comet Observation Database to enter your observations they will be formatted correctly, but please send them to me for inclusion in TA.

Details

2017 T2 aperture corrected


Comet ephemerides (positions) etc

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. 

Planning aids and information for forthcoming comets, valid out to about 2025.

  • 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]

The MPC also has a list of the last observation for all comets.  Electronic 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.  In addition, the MPC has orbital elements for unusual asteroids, many of which have cometary orbits. 

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, which also show suitable comparison stars.

Orbits etc

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.   Full details of the latest orbits are available from Kazuo Kinoshita's Comet Orbit Home Page.  I compile orbital elements in Megastar format for: periodic comets , current comets , comets prior to 2005.  Most of the more recent elements include the latest magnitude parameters.  The elements are from a mix of CBAT catalogues, MPC, MPEC, JPL and individual orbit computers.

Downloads etc

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 2019 [updated 2019 January 3] , 2020 [updates 2019 August 27] and 2021 [created 2018 October 21] are published in the BAA Journal in December each year. This list [Updated 2019 August 27] gives the period of visibility and maximum brightness for comets that are predicted to be visible within the next five 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. Guidance on observing is given in the BAA Comet Observing Guide

Visual and visual equivalent magnitude 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 , which uses special keys to code observation particulars, is now standardised as the one to use for submission and archiving of observations.  The ICQ have not updated their observation keys since 2010, so these additional keys are suggested for use when submitting observations to the BAA (updated 2017 January 4).   Crni Vhr Observatory has launched the Comet Observation Database which allows entry of observations in ICQ format, and plots of light curves.  Visual observations entered using this system should be emailed to me at the end of the month.  Observations are usually analysed and sent to TA as soon as possible after the end of the month with a TA deadline of the 2nd; any late observations will be used in subsequent analyses.  Observations will continue to be published by Guy Hurst in The Astronomer magazine in TA format. There is also a visual drawing form.   The German comet group also has a computer program that will correctly format observations for the ICQ [2009 December]. 

Images should be sent to Denis Buczynski.

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, Werner Hasubick, Kevin Hills, Nick James, Heinz Kerner, Carlos Labordena, Rolando Ligustri, Michael Mattiazzo, Maik Mayer, Antonio Milani, Martin Mobberley, Jose Navarro Pina, Gabriel Oksa, Mieczyslaw  Paradowski, Nirmal Paul, Stuart Rae, Walter Robledo, Tony Scarmato, Willian Souza, David Strange Johan Warrell 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 visual co-ordinator, 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