COMET RESOURCE CENTER
CURRENTLY OBSERVABLE COMETS
|Last updated: June 12, 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 Lemmon C/2018 R3 (no. 662)
This comet brightened to 11th magnitude as it passed through perihelion a few days ago, but with the bright moon now in the evening sky and the comet's decreasing elongation, I am reasonably certain that I am finished with it. It remains low in my northwestern sky during and just after dusk, being at a present elongation of 35 degress and located in northwestern Lynx four degrees east-northeast of the star Delta Aurigae; it is traveling towards the east-southeast at one degree per day. With the comet's now receding from perihelion on the far side of the sun from Earth its already small elongation steadily decreases to below 30 degrees by June 26, and it should likewise be fading as well.
Comet ATLAS C/2017 M4 (no. 644)
I have now been following this distant comet for over a year. It passed through perihelion almost five months ago and is also almost a month past opposition and closest approach to Earth -- and furthermore is at a current declination of -43 degrees and thus is low above my southern horizon -- and even though it still appeared as a moderately condensed object of magnitude 13 1/2 when I most recently observed it a few nights ago, I doubt if I will be following it for much longer. The comet is currently located in western Lupus one degree southeast of the star Eta Centauri and is traveling almost due westward at a little over 20 arcminutes per day; it crosses into eastern Centaurus on June 23. I expect a rather rapid and steady fading over the next few weeks.
Comet Flewelling C/2019 D1 (no. 661)
I am very probably finished with this comet; even though I managed to observe it a couple of times during this dark run it appeared as an extremely faint object of 14th magnitude near the limit of visibility, and since it is now receding from both the sun and Earth it should soon fade beyond my range. It is currently located in southern Andromeda three degrees south of the star 14 Andromedae and is traveling towards the northeast at slightly over half a degree per day.
Comet 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 1 (no. 498)
When this comet emerged into the morning sky last month it was in a state of outburst between magnitudes 13 1/2 and 14, but because it was located south of the sun I was unable to access it from my latitude. It has now climbed high enough that I can do so, and I have successfully observed it a couple of times this month as a vague and diffuse object of 13th magnitude. I expect it to continue fading and diffusing out over the next couple of weeks, although as is always the case with this comet a new outburst could take place at any time. It is currently located in central Pisces one degree north of the star 58 Piscium and is traveling towards the northeast at a relatively slow eight arcminutes per day.
Comet Africano C/2018 W2 (no. 663)
My tally's newest addition is now low in my northeastern sky before dawn, being located in southwestern Camelopardalis one degree east of the open star cluster NGC 1502 and 1 1/2 degrees east of the line of stars known as "Kemble's Cascade;" it is traveling towards the south-southeast at a relatively slow eight arcminutes per day. The comet has appeared as a faint and moderately condensed object of 14th magnitude during my initial observations, but it should brighten steadily during the coming weeks as it approaches the sun and Earth, by at least a half-magnitude or more by the end of June.
SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE ONLY
Comet PANSTARRS C/2016 M1 (no. 629)
After remaining close to 11th magnitude for several months -- including when I successfully observed it from Australia in early February -- this relatively distant comet has been fading during recent weeks, and in fact the most recent reports from observers in the southern hemisphere suggest a present brightness between 13th and 14th magnitude; since it will be in conjunction with the sun (54 degrees south of it) on June 23 its period of visual detectability is probably about at its end. It passed within one degree of the below comet a few days ago and is presently located four degrees to its west-northwest; it is in northeastern Columba half a degree northeast of the star Sigma Columbae and is traveling towards the east-northeast at 15 arcminutes per day, crossing into southwestern Canis Major on June 26 and passing 50 arcminutes north of the star Zeta Canis Majoris on July 5.
Comet Catalina C/2018 W1 [not observed]
Although it remained faint as it approached its perihelion passage a month ago (q = 1.360 AU) this Halley-type comet (P = 102 years) underwent a rather dramatic recent brightening, with various observers in the southern hemisphere reporting brightnesses between 11th and 12th magnitude. It is at a present elongation of 57 degrees, just eastward of being due south of the sun, and is currently located in southwestern Canis Major 1 1/2 degrees northwest of the star Delta Columbae (and four degrees east-southeast of the above comet, which it passed within one degree of a few days ago); it is traveling towards the east-southeast at slightly over one degree per day and crosses into northeastern Columba on June 13 and passes 15 arcminutes south of the above star the following day before crossing into western Puppis on June 17 and crossing centrally across the large open star cluster Collinder 135 eight days after that and then centrally across the open star cluster NGC 2451 on June 30. Presumably because of moonlight in the evening sky, I have not read any very recent reports, but although the comet is past perihelion it is still approaching Earth (minimum distance 1.67 AU on June 24) and, theoretically at least, may remain moderately bright for a few more weeks.
Comet Gibbs C/2018 A6 [not observed]
I unsuccessfully attempted to observe this distant comet visually in early February when I was in Australia, but it has brightened some since then; reports from various observers in the southern hemisphere over the past few weeks all indicate a present brightness near magnitudes 13 1/2 to 14, which is also consistent with recent images I have seen. It is currently located in northwestern Carina 3 1/2 degrees west-northwest of the star Chi Carinae and is traveling just southward of due east at a slow six arcminutes per day, gradually speeding up and curving more towards the southeast over the coming weeks. The comet was closest to Earth (2.72 AU) shortly after mid-March but is still approaching perihelion (July 14, at q = 3.018 AU) and thus is probably close to its maximum brightness, which it should maintain for perhaps another couple of months; meanwhile, it is in conjunction with the sun (77 degrees south of it) during the fourth week of July.
Comet LINEAR C/2017 B3 [not observed]
This distant comet has been in southern circumpolar skies since early 2018 but has recently begun traveling northward; it was near conjunction with the sun when it passed through perihelion (q = 3.92 AU) in early February (which precluded my attempting to observe it when I was in Australia at that time) but has now emerged into the southern hemisphere's morning sky. A Las Cumbres Observatory image that I took in early May suggested it might be somewhat bright, and it has now been reported as being visually detectable at 14th magnitude. It is currently located in northern Phoenix 80 arcminutes south of the star Kappa Phoenicis and is traveling very slowly almost due eastward; it reaches its stationary point -- half a degree east of its present location -- on July 1 and thereafter begins retrograde (westward) motion. The comet is still approaching Earth (minimum distance 3.48 AU shortly after mid-August) and opposition, and thus I don't expect much change in brightness over the next several weeks; meanwhile, within the next couple of months it should become accessible from my latitude (albeit low above my southern horizon) and it is conceivable that I might be able to observe it then and add it to my tally.
Comet ASASSN C/2018 N2 (no. 657)
Following conjunction with the sun in mid-April, this distant comet has now emerged into the southern hemisphere's morning sky, and although recent reports from observers in that part of the world have thus far been rather sparse, those I have read suggest a present brightness near 13th magnitude. It is currently located in northeastern Cetus three degrees west-southwest of the star Nu Ceti and is traveling towards the northeast at 15 arcminutes per day; it passes 1 1/2 degrees northwest of that star on June 22. The comet should brighten slowly and steadily as it approaches perihelion in November; meanwhile, by about the end of this month or early July it should once again become accessible from my latitude.
Return to Comet Resource Center