COMET RESOURCE CENTER

CURRENTLY OBSERVABLE COMETS

Last updated: April 3, 2020

This page will list all the comets that I am currently observing, in west-to-east order from low in the western evening sky to low in the eastern morning sky. It will provide brief information about a comet's location, motion, and current brightness at the time of the update, as well as, when appropriate, notes about potential future activity. The page will also list any asteroidal objects I am following that might potentially be comets, and for the benefit of comet observers in the southern hemisphere it will also list those comets (and other objects) that are bright enough for observation but that are not accessible from the northern hemisphere. Comets (and other objects) that are expected to be 9th magnitude or brighter (and that are also easily accessible for observation) at the time of the given update will be highlighted in red print. Orbital elements and ephemerides for the comets and other objects listed here can be obtained via the Minor Planet Center's Ephemeris Service or via JPL Horizons. I expect to update this page on approximately a bi-weekly basis.

     

Comet PANSTARRS C/2017 T2 (no. 667)

Now just a month away from perihelion passage, this comet appears to have brightened slightly during recent weeks, appearing near magnitude 9 1/2 during my most recent observations. It is in northern circumpolar skies, being presently located in northeastern Cassiopeia 4 1/2 degrees northeast of the star Iota Cassiopeiae and traveling towards the northeast at 25 arcminutes per day; over the next few weeks it turns more easterly and accelerates, to 40 arcminutes per day by the end of April, and meanwhile crosses into Camelopardalis on April 10 and reaches a maximum northerly declination of +76.4 degrees on May 3. Since in addition to approaching perihelion the comet is also now coming closer to Earth, it may brighten slightly further over the next few weeks.

Comet ATLAS C/2019 Y4 (no. 673)

Following the dramatic rise in brightness this comet exhibited between late February and mid-March, this comet has slowed its brightness increase during the recent past, although it is still brightening; I measured it as being near magnitude 8.5, with a large diffuse coma 12 arcminutes in diameter, when I last observed it a little under a week ago. It is in northern circumpolar skies, being presently located in southeastern Camelopardalis four degrees east-northeast of the star 42 Camelopardalis and -- having just passed through its most northerly declination of +68.6 degrees a few days ago -- is now traveling towards the west-southwest at approximately 40 arcminutes per day; it passes 25 arcminutes south of that star on April 10 and drops south of declination +60 degrees on May 1, at which time it will be located two degrees east-southeast of the star Beta Camelopardalis. With its recent slowdown in brightening -- which is not especially surprising -- predictions for the comet's future behavior are somewhat problematical, but unless something bizarre happens I would expect it to continue brightening, and it conceivably could be close to naked-eye brightness by the end of April.

Comet ATLAS C/2019 Y1 (no. 671)

Having passed through perihelion in mid-March and then being in conjunction with the sun (36 degrees north of it) a week later, this comet is now a morning-sky object and is visible low in the northeastern sky before dawn. Although I believed there was a reasonable possibility it might start to disintegrate, thus far it has held its own rather well, and it appeared as a moderately condensed object of 9th magnitude when I observed it yesterday morning. At present it is located in southern Cassiopeia three degrees west of the star Xi Cassiopeiae and is traveling towards the north-northeast at slightly over one degree per day; within a week it enters northern circumpolar skies and in the meantime its motion turns more easterly and accelerates as it reaches its minimum distance from Earth (1.09 AU) in early May, at which time it will be traveling at just over 1 1/2 degrees per day. During the next few weeks the comet passes just over one degree northwest of the star Alpha Cassiopeiae on April 10, crosses into Cepheus on April 26 (at which time it is again in conjunction with the sun, 64 degrees north of it), passes north of declination +80 degrees two days later, and reaches a maximum northerly declination of +82.8 degrees on May 2. Its future brightness behavior is difficult to predict; it may continue to hold its own and thus likely fade gradually over the coming weeks, or it may start to disintegrate and thus begin a rapid fading and diffusing out at some point. Time will tell.

     

SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE ONLY

Comet Lemmon C/2019 U6 (no. 674)

My tally's most recent addition is now no longer accessible from my location, however observers in the southern hemisphere should continue to be able following it at it approaches perihelion, until such time that I can finally (presumably) observe it again in late June. It is currently located in eastern Eridanus five degrees east of the star Tau-9 Eridani and is traveling slightly northward of due east at approximately 20 arcminutes per day; it crosses into southwestern Lepus on April 23 and passes directly over the star Epsilon Leporis five days later. The comet appeared as a vague, diffuse object of magnitude 12 1/2 when I last saw it a little over a week ago, and it should continue brightening over the coming weeks as it approaches the earth and the sun.

          

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