COMET RESOURCE CENTER

CURRENTLY OBSERVABLE COMETS

Last updated: April 7, 2019

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 Iwamoto C/2018 Y1 (no. 658)

With its now being two months past perihelion and its passage by Earth, this comet is likely nearing the end of its visual detectability; when I observed it last night it appeared as little more than a vague, diffuse patch of 12th magnitude. It is also starting to get somewhat low in the northwestern sky after dusk, being at a current elongation of 53 degrees and located in southeastern Perseus 40 arcminutes south of the star 56 Persei; it is presently traveling very slowly due westward and will be at its stationary point on April 12, after which it begins traveling slowly towards the east-northeast. Its elongation will drop below 40 degrees on April 22, and meanwhile it should continue fading fairly rapidly.

Comet 123P/West-Hartley (no. 659)

Like the above comet, this one is also two months past perihelion passage; furthermore, it is a month past opposition and its closest approach to Earth. It is nevertheless still holding its own for the time being, appearing as a small and somewhat condensed object of 13th magnitude when I observed it last night. It is currently located in southeastern Leo Minor four degrees north-northeast of the star 54 Leonis and one degree south of the galaxy NGC 3486; it is traveling essentially southward at 12 arcminutes per day, and after passing through its stationary point on April 16 it begins turning towards the south-southeast and crosses into northern Leo (while passing one degree east of the above star) on April 22. The comet should begin fading over the coming weeks, but based upon is present brightness I expect it to remain visually detectable for at least another month or so.

Comet ATLAS C/2017 M4 (no. 644)

My sole morning-sky comet at this time is this distant object, which passed through perihelion in January and which I picked up in the pre-dawn sky at the beginning of March following its conjunction with the sun late last year. It has just crossed into eastern Scorpius and is located one degree south-southwest of the globular star cluster NGC 6304 (and 2 1/2 degrees east of the globular star cluster M62) and traveling towards the southwest at 20 arcminutes per day (increasing to 30 arcminutes per day by the end of April); it passes 7 arcminutes southeast of the star Epsilon Scorpii on April 22. The comet has appeared as a small and moderately condensed object of magnitude 13 1/2 during my recent observations and it may brighten slightly over the next few weeks as it approaches opposition and its closest approach to Earth (2.48 AU) in mid-May, however its increasing southerly declination -- it crosses south of declination -40 degrees on May 14 -- will keep it a somewhat challenging object for me.

     

SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE ONLY

Comet PANSTARRS C/2016 M1 (no. 629)

I have not read any recent reports of this comet from observers in the southern hemisphere; the latest ones I've read date from last month and indicate a brightness near magnitude 11 1/2; it may have faded a little since then but I suspect it is still visually detectable and may remain so for perhaps another month or more. It is presently is southern Caelum two degrees southeast of the star Delta Caeli and is traveling towards the northeast at 25 arcminutes per day, crossing into southwestern Columba on April 26 (and passing 1 1/2 degrees west of the globular star cluster NGC 1851 two days later).

          

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