Comet Chasing in August


Comet chasing is the visual observation of telescopic comets.

News


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.

Comet Synopses for August


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

C/2013 X1 (PANSTARRS): An evening comet visible in small telescopes
This comet begins the month in Centaurus at magnitude 9.4. Look for a 5.5' coma. It should fade by about 1.3 magnitudes, moving into Hydra by month's end. The best visibility is early in the month as seen from the southern hemisphere.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility July 30 Visibility August 6 Visibility August 13 Visibility August 20 Visibility August 27 Nights Visible
55o N Not visible Not visible Not visible Not visible Not visible  
40o N Very low in the southern sky during evening twilight at ~20:40 Very lo+-w in the southern sky during evening twilight at ~20:20 Very low in the southern sky during evening twilight at ~20:00 Very low in the southern sky during evening twilight at ~19:50 Not visible 1-
Equator High at ~19:30 High in moonlight at ~19:20 High during evening twilight at ~19:10 Fairly high at ~19:20 Fairly high at ~19:10 1-
30o S High at ~19:00 High in moonlight at ~19:00 High during evening twilight at ~18:50 High at ~19:00 High at ~19:10 1-

9P/Tempel: An evening comet visible in a 10-inch (25 cm) telescope
This comet begins the month in Virgo at magnitude 11.5. Look for a 3' coma. It should fade slowly, moving into Libra by month's end. The best visibility is early in the month as seen from the southern hemisphere.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility July 30 Visibility August 6 Visibility August 13 Visibility August 20 Visibility August 27 Nights Visible
55o N Not visible Not visible Not visible Not visible Not visible  
40o N Low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~20:50 Low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~20:40 Low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~20:10 Low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~20:10 Low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~20:00 1-
Equator High at ~19:30 High in moonlight at ~19:20 High during evening twilight at ~19:10 High at ~19:20 High at ~19:20 1-
30o S High at ~19:00 High in moonlight at ~19:00 High during evening twilight at ~18:50 High at ~19:00 High at ~19:10 1-

29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann: An evening comet visible in a 10-inch (25 cm) telescope
This comet begins the month in Sagittarius at magnitude 13.2. Look for a 50" coma. As of August 2 it is in outburst and will fade by ~1 as it subsides. Otherwise, it should fade slowly. The best visibility is early in the month as seen from the southern hemisphere.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility July 30 Visibility August 6 Visibility August 13 Visibility August 20 Visibility August 27 Nights Visible
55o N Very low in the southern sky during evening twilight at ~23:00 Very low in the southern sky during evening twilight at ~22:30 Very low in the southern sky during evening twilight at ~22:00 Very low in the southern sky during evening twilight at ~21:30 Very low in the southern sky during evening twilight at ~21:10 1-
40o N Fairly high in the southern sky at ~22:50 Fairly high in the southern sky at ~22:20 Fairly high in the southern sky in moonlight at ~22:00 Fairly high in the southern sky during evening twilight at ~20:10 Fairly high in the southern sky at ~20:50 1-
Equator High at ~22:50 High at ~22:20 Low in the western sky at ~02:20 High at ~20:10 High at ~20:50 1-
30o S High at ~22:50 High at ~22:20 Fairly high in the western sky at ~03:10 High at ~20:00 High at ~20:50 1-

C/2016 A8 (LINEAR): An evening comet visible in a 10-inch (25 cm) telescope
This comet begins the month in Andromeda at magnitude 14.3. Look for a 45" coma. It should brighten by about 0.9 magnitudes, moving into Cygnus by month's end.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility July 30 Visibility August 6 Visibility August 13 Visibility August 20 Visibility August 27 Nights Visible
55o N High during morning twilight at ~00:50 High during morning twilight at ~01:10 High at ~01:20 High in moonlight at ~00:40 High at ~23:10 1-
40o N High at ~03:00 High at ~02:50 High at ~01:50 High during evening twilight at ~20:10 High at ~23:10 1-
Equator High at ~03:40 High at ~03:00 High at ~02:20 Low in the eastern sky at ~20:10 High at ~23:10 1-
30o S Low in the northern sky at ~04:00 Low in the northern sky at ~03:00 Low in the northern sky at ~03:10 Low in the northern sky in moonlight at ~00:30 Fairly high in the northern sky at ~23:10 1-

C/2014 S2 (PANSTARRS): An evening comet visible in a 12.5-inch (32 cm) telescope
This comet begins the month in Leo at magnitude 11.3. Look for a 3.5' coma. It should fade by about 0.5 magnitudes, moving into Virgo by month's end.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility July 30 Visibility August 6 Visibility August 13 Visibility August 20 Visibility August 27 Nights Visible
55o N Very low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~21:50 Not visible Not visible Not visible Not visible 1-12
40o N Low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~20:50 Low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~20:30 Very low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~20:10 Very low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~20:00 Not visible 1-27, 29
Equator Fairly high in the western sky during evening twilight at ~19:20 Fairly high in the western 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 ~19:10 Very low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~19:00 1-
30o S Low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~18:50 Low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~18:50 Low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~18:40 Very low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~18:50 Very low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~18:40 1-

C/2014 W2 (PANSTARRS): An evening comet visible in a 12.5-inch (32 cm) telescope
This comet begins the month in Bootes at magnitude 13.0. Look for a 1' coma. It should fade by about 0.5 magnitudes, moving into Serpens Caput by month's end.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility July 30 Visibility August 6 Visibility August 13 Visibility August 20 Visibility August 27 Nights Visible
55o N High during evening twilight at ~23:20 Fairly high during evening twilight at ~22:50 Fairly high in the western sky at ~00:20 High during evening twilight at ~21:20 Fairly high during evening twilight at ~21:20 1-
40o N High at ~21:10 High at ~21:10 High during evening twilight at ~20:30 High during evening twilight at ~20:10 High at ~20:20 1-
Equator High at ~19:30 High in moonlight at ~19:30 High during evening twilight at ~19:10 High at ~19:20 High at ~19:20 1-
30o S Fairly high in the northern sky at ~18:50 Fairly high in the northern sky in moonlight at ~19:00 Fairly high in the northern sky during evening twilight at ~18:50 Fairly high in the northern sky during evening twilight at ~19:00 Fairly high in the northern sky during evening twilight at ~19:00 1-

237P/LINEAR: An evening comet visible in a 12.5-inch (32 cm) telescope
This comet begins the month in Virgo at magnitude 13.5. Look for a 35" coma. It should fade slowly, moving into Libra by month's end. The best visibility is early in the month as seen from the southern hemisphere.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility July 30 Visibility August 6 Visibility August 13 Visibility August 20 Visibility August 27 Nights Visible
55o N Not visible Not visible Not visible Not visible Not visible  
40o N Low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~20:50 Low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~20:40 Low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~20:10 Low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~20:10 Low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~20:00 1-
Equator High at ~19:30 High in moonlight at ~19:20 High during evening twilight at ~19:10 High at ~19:20 High at ~19:20 1-
30o S High at ~18:50 High in moonlight at ~19:00 High during evening twilight at ~18:50 High at ~19:00 High at ~19:00 1-

43P/Wolf-Harrington: A morning comet visible in an 18-inch (46 cm) telescope
This comet begins the month in Gemini at magnitude 12.9. Look for a 1' coma. It should brighten slowly, moving into Cancer by month's end.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility July 30 Visibility August 6 Visibility August 13 Visibility August 20 Visibility August 27 Nights Visible
55o N Very low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~02:10 Very low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~02:20 Very low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~02:30 Low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~03:10 Low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~03:00 1-
40o N Low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~03:20 Low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~03:30 Low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~03:40 Low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~04:00 Low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~04:00 1-
Equator Low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~04:50 Low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~04:50 Low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~04:50 Fairly high in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~05:00 Fairly high in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~04:50 1-
30o S Low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~05:30 Low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~05:30 Low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~05:20 Low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~05:30 Low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~05:10 1-

53P/Van Biesbroeck: A morning comet visible in an 18-inch (46 cm) telescope
This comet begins the month in Aquarius at magnitude 13.5. Look for a 1' coma. It should fade slowly, moving into Capricornus by month's end.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility July 30 Visibility August 6 Visibility August 13 Visibility August 20 Visibility August 27 Nights Visible
55o N Fairly high in the southern sky during morning twilight at ~00:20 Fairly high in the southern sky at ~00:00 Low in the southern sky at ~00:20 Low in the southern sky in moonlight at ~23:00 Low in the southern sky at ~22:30 1-
40o N Fairly high at ~00:30 Fairly high at ~00:00 Fairly high in the southern sky at ~01:20 Fairly high in the southern sky during evening twilight at ~20:10 Fairly high at ~22:30 1-
Equator High at ~00:30 High at ~00:00 High at ~02:20 High at ~20:10 High at ~22:30 1-
30o S High at ~00:30 High at ~00:00 Fairly high at ~03:10 High at ~20:00 High at ~22:30 1-

81P/Wild: An evening comet visible in very large telescopes
This comet begins the month in Leo at magnitude 11.1. Look for a 2.5' coma. It should fade slowly, moving into Virgo by month's end. The best visibility is early in the month as seen from the southern hemisphere.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility July 30 Visibility August 6 Visibility August 13 Visibility August 20 Visibility August 27 Nights Visible
55o N Not visible Not visible Not visible Not visible Not visible  
40o N Very low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~20:20 Very low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~20:10 Not visible Not visible Not visible 1-10, 12
Equator Low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~19:20 Low in the western 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 ~19:10 Low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~19:10 1-
30o S Low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~18:50 Low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~18:50 Low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~18:40 Low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~18:50 Low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~19:00 1-

C/2015 WZ (PANSTARRS): An evening comet visible in very large telescopes
This comet begins the month in Bootes at magnitude 12.5. Look for a 2' coma. It should fade by about 1.4 magnitudes, moving into Virgo by month's end.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility July 30 Visibility August 6 Visibility August 13 Visibility August 20 Visibility August 27 Nights Visible
55o N Fairly high in the western sky during evening twilight at ~23:10 Fairly high in the western sky during evening twilight at ~22:40 Fairly high in the western sky during evening twilight at ~21:40 Fairly high in the western sky during evening twilight at ~21:10 Low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~21:10 1-
40o N High at ~21:10 High at ~21:10 High during evening twilight at ~20:20 Fairly high during evening twilight at ~20:10 Fairly high in the western sky at ~20:20 1-
Equator High at ~19:30 High in moonlight at ~19:30 High during evening twilight at ~19:10 High at ~19:20 High at ~19:20 1-
30o S High at ~19:00 High in moonlight at ~19:00 High during evening twilight at ~18:50 High at ~19:00 Fairly high at ~19:10 1-

C/2011 KP36 (Spacewatch): A morning comet visible in very large telescopes
This comet begins the month in Cetus at magnitude 13.6. Look for a 1.5' coma. It should brighten slowly.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility July 30 Visibility August 6 Visibility August 13 Visibility August 20 Visibility August 27 Nights Visible
55o N Fairly high in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~01:10 Fairly high in the southern sky during morning twilight at ~01:30 Fairly high during morning twilight at ~01:50 Fairly high during morning twilight at ~02:30 Fairly high at ~00:40 1-
40o N High at ~02:30 High at ~03:10 High at ~03:10 High in moonlight at ~02:40 High at ~01:20 1-
Equator High at ~03:40 High at ~03:50 High at ~03:20 High in moonlight at ~02:40 High at ~02:30 1-
30o S High at ~04:10 High at ~03:50 High at ~03:20 High in moonlight at ~02:40 High at ~02:30 1-

C/2015 V2 (Johnson): A far-northern morning comet visible in very large telescopes
This comet begins the month in Ursa Major at magnitude 14.1. Look for a 35" coma. It should brighten slowly.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility July 30 Visibility August 6 Visibility August 13 Visibility August 20 Visibility August 27 Nights Visible
55o N Low in the northern sky during evening twilight at ~23:50 Low in the northern sky during evening twilight at ~23:10 Low in the northern sky during morning twilight at ~01:40 Fairly high in the northern sky during morning twilight at ~02:50 Fairly high in the northern sky during morning twilight at ~02:40 1-
40o N Low in the northern sky during evening twilight at ~21:00 Low in the northern sky during evening twilight at ~20:50 Low in the northern sky during morning twilight at ~03:40 Low in the northern sky during evening twilight at ~20:10 Low in the northern sky during morning twilight at ~03:50 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

August 1st

August 15th

August 31st

Observations as of (UT)
Mag Diam Mag Diam Mag Diam
C/2013 X1 (PANSTARRS) Centaurus 9.5 5.7' 10.1 4.5' 10.7 3.7' 2016 July 30
81P/Wild Leo 11.1 2.6' 11.2 2.5' 11.4 2.5' 2016 July 31
C/2014 S2 (PANSTARRS) Leo 11.3 3.6' 11.5 3.4' 11.8 3.3' 2016 July 28
9P/Tempel Virgo 11.5 3.0' 11.7 2.8' 12.0 2.6' 2016 July 30
C/2015 WZ (PANSTARRS) Bootes 12.5 2.0' 13.2 1.7' 13.9 1.4' 2016 June 6
43P/Wolf-Harrington Gemini 12.8 1.1' 12.7 1.1' 12.7 1.1' 2016 July 3
C/2014 W2 (PANSTARRS) Bootes 13.0 1.2' 13.3 1.2' 13.5 1.1' 2016 July 30
29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann Sagittarius 13.2 51" 13.2 51" 13.3 49" 2016 July 31
53P/Van Biesbroeck Aquarius 13.5 1.0' 13.6 1.0' 13.9 57" 2016 July 31
237P/LINEAR Virgo 13.5 33" 13.6 32" 13.7 30" 2016 July 31
C/2011 KP36 (Spacewatch) Cetus 13.6 1.4' 13.5 1.5' 13.5 1.5' 2016 July 31
C/2015 V2 (Johnson) Ursa Major 14.1 31" 13.9 32" 13.6 33" 2016 July 23
C/2013 US10 (Catalina) Auriga 14.2 59" 14.3 60" 14.5 1.0' 2016 July 14
C/2016 A8 (LINEAR) Andromeda 14.3 31" 13.8 37" 13.5 43" 2016 July 28
77P/Longmore Hydra 14.7 36" 14.9 34" 15.2 32" 2016 July 2
116P/Wild Libra 14.8 1.1' 15.2 58" 15.6 52" 2016 July 2

*In solar conjunction and generally not visible

For the latest news and comet observations see the ICQ/CBAT/MPC: Recent Comet Magnitude Estimates page.  The Astronomical Headlines page of the IAU is also a good source of information, particularly for recent discoveries.

For general information about 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