Comet Chasing in June


Comet chasing is the visual observation of telescopic comets.

News


  • 66P/du Toit passed perihelion in mid May.

  • C/2016 R2 (PANSTARRS) passed perihelion in early May. 

  • 21P/Giacobini-Zinner will next reach perihelion in early September, when it will pass within 0.4 AU of the earth and is predicted to reach maximum brightness of magnitud .

  • C/2016 N6 (PANSTARRS) will reach perihelion in mid July. It is predicted to reach maximum brightness of magnitude 12.3 in late June.

  • C/2016 M1 (PANSTARRS) will reach perihelion in early August. It is predicted to reach maximum brightness of magnitude 8 in late July.

  • 48P/Johnson will next reach perihelion in mid August when it is predicted to reach maximum brightness of magnitude 12.8.

  • 37P/Forbes passed perihelion in early May.

  • C/2015 O1 (PANSTARRS) is past perihelion, which occurred in mid February 2018.

  • 62P/Tsuchinshan was recovered in August. It had not been seen since 2004. It brightened significantly and passed perihelion in late November. It has recently been too close to the sun to be observed.

  • 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann was very active in late August and September. It had the second of two outbursts that occurred within a few days of one another. This second outburst was the brightest since 2010, brightening it up to 12th magnitude. On July 2 in had an outburst that for the first time was caught as the outburst occurred (see https://www.britastro.org/node/10684). Primary outbursts, resulting in a brightening of 0.5 - 1.0 magnitudes, occur roughly every 59 days, typically taking 5-10 days to subside. But up to three subsequent outbursts, such as the one ones recently, may occur 5-10 days afterward, each typically smaller than the last, but sometimes they can be even brighter than the first.  

Read about the first interstellar object to pass through our solar system

 

 

Comet Visibility in the Eyepiece

This page uses code developed for SkyTools 3 to predict the visibility of a comet in the eyepiece.  Predicting how much aperture is required to see a comet is a very complex task.  Have a look for yourself: a comparison of the predictions below (such as "visible in small telescopes") to the magnitude of each comet shows just how poor an indicator the magnitude alone really is.  When you read below that a particular aperture is required to see a comet you can have a reasonable degree of confidence that the comet can in fact be seen in the eyepiece. But always remember, comets are like cats. They both have tails and do what they want, and not always what we expect. This is one of the things that makes comet chasing interesting!

Comet Synopses for June


Explanation of Comet Synopses and charts (read this if you have questions)

C/2016 M1 (PANSTARRS): A morning comet visible in binoculars
This comet begins the month in Sagittarius at magnitude 9.4. Look for a 3' coma. It should brighten slowly, moving into Ara by month's end. The best visibility is late in the month as seen from the southern hemisphere.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility June 2 Visibility June 9 Visibility June 16 Visibility June 23 Visibility June 30 Nights Visible
55o N Not visible Not visible Not visible Not visible Not visible 1-11
40o N Fairly high in the southern sky in moonlight at ~02:20 Low in the southern sky at ~01:40 Low in the southern sky at ~00:50 Very low in the southern sky in moonlight at ~00:00 Not visible 1-
Equator Low in the eastern sky at ~21:20 High at ~01:40 High at ~00:50 Fairly high at ~02:50 Fairly high in the southern sky at ~20:10 1-
30o S Low in the eastern sky at ~20:30 High at ~01:40 High at ~01:00 High at ~03:20 High at ~19:20 1-

66P/du Toit: A morning comet visible in a 6-inch (15 cm) telescope
This comet begins the month in Sculptor at magnitude 10.4. Look for a 5.5' coma. It should fade slowly, moving into Cetus by month's end. The best visibility is mid-month as seen from the southern hemisphere.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility June 2 Visibility June 9 Visibility June 16 Visibility June 23 Visibility June 30 Nights Visible
55o N Not visible Not visible Not visible Not visible Not visible  
40o N Not visible Not visible Very low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~03:20 Very low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~03:10 Low in the southern sky during morning twilight at ~03:20 5-
Equator High during morning twilight at ~04:50 High in moonlight at ~04:40 High at ~04:40 High at ~04:40 High during morning twilight at ~04:50 1-
30o S High during morning twilight at ~05:30 High in moonlight at ~05:20 High at ~05:20 High at ~05:20 High during morning twilight at ~05:40 1-

C/2015 O1 (PANSTARRS): An evening comet visible in a 6-inch (15 cm) telescope
This comet begins the month in Ursa Major at magnitude 12.2. Look for a 1' coma. It should fade slowly.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility June 2 Visibility June 9 Visibility June 16 Visibility June 23 Visibility June 30 Nights Visible
55o N High during evening twilight at ~23:30 High during evening twilight at ~23:50 High during evening twilight at ~23:50 Fairly high during evening twilight at ~23:50 Fairly high during evening twilight at ~23:40 1-
40o N High at ~21:30 High at ~21:40 High at ~22:10 High during evening twilight at ~21:20 High during evening twilight at ~21:10 1-
Equator Fairly high at ~19:40 Fairly high at ~19:30 Fairly high in moonlight at ~19:30 Fairly high during evening twilight at ~19:10 Fairly high at ~19:30 1-
30o S Very low in the northern sky at ~19:40 Very low in the northern sky at ~19:00 Very low in the northern sky in moonlight at ~18:30 Low in the northern sky during evening twilight at ~18:20 Low in the northern sky during evening twilight at ~18:30 1-

21P/Giacobini-Zinner: A morning comet visible in a 6-inch (15 cm) telescope
This comet begins the month in Cygnus at magnitude 13.8. Look for a 40" coma. It should brighten rapidly.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility June 2 Visibility June 9 Visibility June 16 Visibility June 23 Visibility June 30 Nights Visible
55o N High during evening twilight at ~23:30 High during morning twilight at ~00:10 High during morning twilight at ~00:10 High during morning twilight at ~00:10 High during morning twilight at ~00:20 1-
40o N Fairly high in the eastern sky at ~22:30 High at ~02:20 High at ~02:20 High at ~02:10 Fairly high during evening twilight at ~21:10 1-
Equator High in moonlight at ~03:50 High at ~02:40 High at ~03:20 High at ~03:00 Fairly high in moonlight at ~02:50 1-
30o S Fairly high in the northern sky in moonlight at ~03:50 Fairly high in the northern sky at ~03:00 Low in the northern sky at ~03:20 Low in the northern sky at ~03:20 Very low in the northern sky in moonlight at ~02:50 1-

C/2016 N6 (PANSTARRS): An evening comet visible in a 10-inch (25 cm) telescope
This comet begins the month in Lynx at magnitude 11.7. Look for a 2' coma. It should fade slowly.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility June 2 Visibility June 9 Visibility June 16 Visibility June 23 Visibility June 30 Nights Visible
55o N Fairly high in the northern sky during evening twilight at ~23:30 Low in the northern sky during evening twilight at ~23:40 Low in the northern sky during evening twilight at ~23:30 Low in the northern sky during evening twilight at ~23:10 Not visible 1-
40o N Fairly high in the western sky during evening twilight at ~21:20 Fairly high in the western sky during evening twilight at ~21:20 Low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~21:20 Low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~21:00 Very low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~21:10 1-
Equator Fairly high in the northern sky during evening twilight at ~19:20 Low in the northern sky during evening twilight at ~19:20 Low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~19:10 Low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~19:00 Very low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~19:10 1-
30o S Very low in the northern sky during evening twilight at ~18:10 Not visible Not visible Not visible Not visible 1-10, 12-14

48P/Johnson: A morning comet visible in a 10-inch (25 cm) telescope
This comet begins the month in Capricornus at magnitude 14.0. Look for a 30" coma. It should brighten by about 0.6 magnitudes, moving into Aquarius by month's end.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility June 2 Visibility June 9 Visibility June 16 Visibility June 23 Visibility June 30 Nights Visible
55o N Not visible Not visible Very low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~01:20 Low in the southern sky during morning twilight at ~01:20 Low in the southern sky during morning twilight at ~01:20 1-
40o N Fairly high in the southern sky during morning twilight at ~03:10 Fairly high in the southern sky at ~02:20 Fairly high in the southern sky during morning twilight at ~02:40 Fairly high in the southern sky during morning twilight at ~02:30 Fairly high during morning twilight at ~03:00 1-
Equator High during morning twilight at ~04:50 High in moonlight at ~04:30 High at ~04:30 High at ~04:10 High in moonlight at ~04:10 1-
30o S High in moonlight at ~05:20 High in moonlight at ~05:00 High at ~04:30 High at ~04:10 High in moonlight at ~04:10 1-

37P/Forbes: A morning comet visible in a 12.5-inch (32 cm) telescope
This comet begins the month in Aquarius at magnitude 12.7. Look for a 2' coma. It should remain constant, moving into Pisces by month's end.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility June 2 Visibility June 9 Visibility June 16 Visibility June 23 Visibility June 30 Nights Visible
55o N Not visible Not visible Very low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~01:20 Low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~01:10 Low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~01:10 4-
40o N Fairly high in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~03:10 Fairly high in the eastern sky at ~02:20 Fairly high in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~02:40 Fairly high during morning twilight at ~02:40 High during morning twilight at ~03:00 1-
Equator High during morning twilight at ~04:50 High in moonlight at ~04:30 High at ~04:30 High at ~04:30 High during morning twilight at ~04:50 1-
30o S High during morning twilight at ~05:30 High in moonlight at ~05:20 High at ~05:10 High at ~05:10 High in moonlight at ~05:00 1-

C/2016 R2 (PANSTARRS): A northern hemisphere evening comet visible in a 14-inch (36 cm) telescope
This comet begins the month in Auriga at magnitude 11.2. Look for a 2.5' coma. It should fade slowly, moving into Lynx by month's end.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility June 2 Visibility June 9 Visibility June 16 Visibility June 23 Visibility June 30 Nights Visible
55o N Low in the northern sky during evening twilight at ~23:30 Low in the northern sky during evening twilight at ~23:50 Low in the northern sky during evening twilight at ~23:50 Low in the northern sky during evening twilight at ~23:50 Low in the northern sky during evening twilight at ~23:50 1-
40o N Low in the northern sky during evening twilight at ~21:20 Low in the northern sky during evening twilight at ~21:20 Low in the northern sky during evening twilight at ~21:20 Low in the northern sky during evening twilight at ~21:10 Low in the northern sky during evening twilight at ~21:10 1-
Equator Very low in the northern sky during evening twilight at ~19:00 Very low in the northern sky during evening twilight at ~19:00 Not visible Not visible Not visible 1-21
30o S Not visible Not visible Not visible Not visible Not visible  

C/2018 EF9 (Lemmon): A far-northern evening comet visible in very large telescopes
This comet begins the month in Cepheus at magnitude 12.0. Look for a 3' coma. It should fade slowly.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility June 2 Visibility June 9 Visibility June 16 Visibility June 23 Visibility June 30 Nights Visible
55o N High during evening twilight at ~23:30 High during evening twilight at ~00:00 High during morning twilight at ~00:00 High during morning twilight at ~00:00 High during morning twilight at ~00:10 1-
40o N Fairly high at ~21:50 Fairly high at ~02:00 Fairly high at ~02:00 Fairly high at ~02:10 Fairly high during evening twilight at ~21:10 1-
Equator Not visible Not visible Not visible Not visible Not visible  
30o S Not visible Not visible Not visible Not visible Not visible  

Summary Data for This Month's Telescopic Comets


Comets brighter than 15th magnitude.  This table is updated as necessary.  The last column indicates the date of the last observation used to compute these values.  The constellation listed is where the comet was on the first of the month.
Comet Constellation

June 1st

June 15th

June 30th

Observations as of (UT)
Mag Diam Mag Diam Mag Diam
C/2016 M1 (PANSTARRS) Sagittarius 9.4 2.7' 9.1 2.9' 8.9 3.0' 2018 May 28
66P/du Toit Sculptor 10.7 6.5' 10.9 6.4' 11.1 6.4' 2018 May 26
C/2016 R2 (PANSTARRS) Auriga 11.2 2.4' 11.3 2.4' 11.3 2.4' 2018 May 9
C/2016 N6 (PANSTARRS) Lynx 11.7 1.9' 11.7 1.8' 11.8 1.8' 2018 May 16
C/2017 T3 (ATLAS) Taurus 11.8 38" 11.0 42" 10.1 48" 2018 April 8
C/2018 EF9 (Lemmon) Cepheus 12.0 2.8' 12.1 2.7' 12.1 2.7' 2018 May 16
C/2015 O1 (PANSTARRS) Ursa Major 12.2 1.1' 12.3 1.0' 12.5 58" 2018 May 16
37P/Forbes Aquarius 12.7 1.8' 12.6 1.9' 12.6 2.0' 2018 May 26
21P/Giacobini-Zinner Cygnus 13.7 34" 12.9 39" 12.0 45" 2018 May 21
48P/Johnson Capricornus 13.9 23" 13.6 26" 13.3 29" 2018 April 26
29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann Pisces 14.7 19" 14.6 20" 14.5 21" 2018 May 10

*In solar conjunction and generally not visible

For information about specific comets see Gary W. Kronk's Cometography 

Join the Comet Chasing discussion group 

Further reading: see Comet Chasing, Sky & Telescope, April 2005, pg. 83.

Make your own custom charts for your location and telescope/binoculars: software for comet observing
 

Links

Skyhound's Guide to Comets
Skyhound's Guide to Finding Comets
BAA Comet Section
Weekly Information About Bright Comets
Cometography