Comet Chasing in October


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 October


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

C/2012 K1 (PANSTARRS): A morning comet visible in binoculars
This comet begins the month in Hydra at magnitude 7.5. Look for a 7' coma. It should fade slowly, moving into Puppis by month's end. The best visibility is late in the month as seen from the southern hemisphere.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility October 4 Visibility October 11 Visibility October 18 Visibility October 25 Visibility November 1 Nights Visible
55o N Low in the southern sky during morning twilight at ~04:20 Very low in the southern sky during morning twilight at ~04:50 Not visible Not visible Not visible 1-19
40o N Fairly high in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~04:30 Fairly high in the southern sky during morning twilight at ~04:50 Low in the southern sky during morning twilight at ~04:40 Very low in the southern sky at ~04:40 Not visible 1-30
Equator High at ~04:30 High during morning twilight at ~04:40 High in moonlight at ~04:30 High at ~04:20 Fairly high at ~03:00 1-
30o S High at ~04:10 High during morning twilight at ~04:10 High in moonlight at ~03:50 High at ~03:40 High at ~03:00 1-

C/2013 V5 (Oukaimeden): An evening comet visible in small telescopes
This comet begins the month in Hydra at magnitude 7.7. Look for a 3.5' coma. It should fade rapidly, 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 October 4 Visibility October 11 Visibility October 18 Visibility October 25 Visibility November 1 Nights Visible
55o N Not visible Not visible Not visible Not visible Not visible  
40o N Not visible Not visible Not visible Not visible Not visible 8-9, 11-13, 17-20, 24-24
Equator 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 ~18:50 Very low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~18:50 Not visible 1-30
30o S Fairly high in the western sky during evening twilight at ~19:10 Low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~19:20 Low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~19:30 Very low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~19:20 Not visible 1-28, 30-30

C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring): An evening comet visible in small telescopes
This comet begins the month in Scorpius at magnitude 10.2. Look for a 1.5' coma. It should fade by about 0.8 magnitudes, moving into Ophiuchus by month's end. The best visibility is early in the month as seen from the southern hemisphere.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility October 4 Visibility October 11 Visibility October 18 Visibility October 25 Visibility November 1 Nights Visible
55o N Not visible Not visible Not visible Very low in the southern sky during evening twilight at ~18:10 Very low in the southern sky during evening twilight at ~17:50 18-
40o N Very low in the southern sky during evening twilight at ~18:40 Low in the southern sky during evening twilight at ~18:50 Low in the southern sky during evening twilight at ~18:40 Low in the southern sky during evening twilight at ~18:30 Low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~18:10 1-
Equator High during evening twilight at ~18:50 High at ~19:00 Fairly high at ~19:00 Fairly high during evening twilight at ~19:00 Fairly high in the western sky during evening twilight at ~18:50 1-
30o S High during evening twilight at ~19:20 High at ~19:30 High at ~19:40 Fairly high during evening twilight at ~19:40 Fairly high in the western sky during evening twilight at ~19:40 1-

C/2014 E2 (Jacques): An evening comet visible in small telescopes
This comet begins the month in Aquila at magnitude 9.9. Look for a 3.5' coma. It should fade rapidly.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility October 4 Visibility October 11 Visibility October 18 Visibility October 25 Visibility November 1 Nights Visible
55o N High during evening twilight at ~19:20 Fairly high during evening twilight at ~19:00 Fairly high at ~19:00 Fairly high at ~18:40 Fairly high during evening twilight at ~18:10 1-
40o N High during evening twilight at ~19:00 High at ~19:00 High at ~18:50 High at ~18:40 High during evening twilight at ~18:20 1-
Equator High during evening twilight at ~19:00 High at ~19:10 High at ~19:00 High at ~19:00 High during evening twilight at ~18:50 1-
30o S High during evening twilight at ~19:20 High at ~19:30 High at ~19:40 Fairly high at ~19:40 Fairly high during evening twilight at ~19:40 1-

C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy): A morning comet visible in a 6-inch (15 cm) telescope
This comet begins the month in Puppis at magnitude 12.1. Look for a 2.5' coma. It should brighten by about 1.3 magnitudes, moving into Vela by month's end. The best visibility is late in the month as seen from the southern hemisphere.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility October 4 Visibility October 11 Visibility October 18 Visibility October 25 Visibility November 1 Nights Visible
55o N Not visible Not visible Not visible Not visible Not visible  
40o N Not visible Not visible Very low in the southern sky during morning twilight at ~05:00 Very low in the southern sky during morning twilight at ~05:00 Very low in the southern sky during morning twilight at ~05:00 6-6, 10-10, 12-
Equator Fairly high at ~04:30 High during morning twilight at ~04:40 High in moonlight at ~04:30 High at ~04:20 High at ~04:20 1-
30o S High at ~04:10 High during morning twilight at ~04:10 High in moonlight at ~03:50 High at ~03:40 High at ~03:30 1-

C/2013 US10 (Catalina): An evening comet visible in a 12.5-inch (32 cm) telescope
This comet begins the month in Aquarius at magnitude 13.8. Look for a 30" coma. It should brighten slowly, moving into Pisces Austrinus by month's end. The best visibility is late in the month as seen from the southern hemisphere.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility October 4 Visibility October 11 Visibility October 18 Visibility October 25 Visibility November 1 Nights Visible
55o N Low in the southern sky in moonlight at ~22:10 Low in the southern sky in moonlight at ~21:40 Low in the southern sky at ~21:00 Low in the southern sky at ~20:20 Very low in the southern sky in moonlight at ~19:50 1-
40o N Fairly high in the southern sky in moonlight at ~22:10 Fairly high in the southern sky at ~19:40 Fairly high in the southern sky at ~21:00 Fairly high in the southern sky at ~20:20 Fairly high in the southern sky in moonlight at ~19:50 1-
Equator Low in the western sky at ~02:50 High at ~20:50 High at ~21:00 High at ~20:30 High in moonlight at ~19:40 1-
30o S Fairly high in the western sky at ~03:10 High at ~21:30 High at ~21:00 High at ~20:30 High in moonlight at ~19:50 1-

C/2012 X1 (LINEAR): A southern hemisphere evening comet visible in very large telescopes
This comet begins the month in Indus at magnitude 11.4. Look for a 4' coma. It should fade by about 0.8 magnitudes, moving into Grus by month's end. The best visibility is mid-month as seen from the southern hemisphere.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility October 4 Visibility October 11 Visibility October 18 Visibility October 25 Visibility November 1 Nights Visible
55o N Not visible Not visible Not visible Not visible Not visible  
40o N Not visible Not visible Not visible Not visible Not visible  
Equator Fairly high in moonlight at ~20:40 Fairly high at ~20:20 High at ~19:50 High at ~19:30 High in moonlight at ~19:00 1-
30o S Low in the southern sky at ~03:10 High at ~20:20 High at ~20:00 High at ~20:00 Low in the southern sky at ~01:50 1-

C/2010 S1 (LINEAR): An evening comet visible in very large telescopes
This comet begins the month in Serpens Cauda at magnitude 13.4. Look for a 60" coma. It should fade slowly.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility October 4 Visibility October 11 Visibility October 18 Visibility October 25 Visibility November 1 Nights Visible
55o N Fairly high in the southern sky during evening twilight at ~19:10 Fairly high in the southern sky during evening twilight at ~19:00 Low in the southern sky during evening twilight at ~18:50 Low in the southern sky during evening twilight at ~18:30 Low in the southern sky during evening twilight at ~18:10 1-
40o N Fairly high during evening twilight at ~19:00 Fairly high at ~19:00 Fairly high at ~18:50 Fairly high in the southern sky at ~18:40 Fairly high in the southern sky during evening twilight at ~18:20 1-
Equator High during evening twilight at ~19:00 High at ~19:00 High at ~19:00 High at ~19:00 High during evening twilight at ~18:50 1-
30o S High during evening twilight at ~19:20 High at ~19:30 High at ~19:40 Fairly high at ~19:40 Fairly high during evening twilight at ~19:40 1-

  

Summary Data for This Month's Telescopic Comets


Here's a list of the 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

October 1st

October 15th

October 31st

Observations as of (UT)
Mag Diam Mag Diam Mag Diam
C/2012 K1 (PANSTARRS) Hydra 7.5 5.1' 7.5 6.2' 7.7 7.2' 2014 October 1
C/2013 V5 (Oukaimeden) Hydra 7.7 3.5' 9.3 2.2' 11.0 1.6' 2014 September 23
C/2014 E2 (Jacques) Aquila 9.9 4.1' 11.1 3.0' 12.1 2.3' 2014 September 23
C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring) Scorpius 10.2 1.8' 10.6 1.4' 11.0 1.2' 2014 September 23
C/2012 X1 (LINEAR) Indus 11.4 4.5' 11.8 4.1' 12.2 3.6' 2014 September 18
C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy) Puppis 12.1 2.0' 11.6 2.3' 10.8 2.7' 2014 October 1
C/2010 S1 (LINEAR) Serpens Cauda 13.4 60" 13.5 57" 13.6 55" 2014 September 22
C/2013 US10 (Catalina) Aquarius 13.8 30" 13.7 29" 13.6 29" 2014 August 28
284P/McNaught Aquarius 14.0 43" 14.1 40" 14.4 36" 2014 September 23
C/2011 J2 (LINEAR) Andromeda 14.2 28" 14.3 28" 14.5 26" 2014 October 4
17P/Holmes Auriga 14.3 39" 14.4 41" 14.4 43" 2014 September 23
4P/Faye Cancer 14.4 26" 14.6 27" 14.8 28" 2014 September 23
P/2014 L2 (NEOWISE) Aquarius 14.4 39" 14.6 36" 15.0 32" 2014 August 29
32P/Comas Sola Cancer 14.5 1.0' 14.4 1.1' 14.3 1.1' 2014 October 4
108P/Ciffreo Taurus 14.9 31" 14.6 34" 14.4 38" 2014 October 4
C/2014 Q3 (Borisov) Auriga 15.0 37" 14.5 43" 14.2 48" 2014 October 4

*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

Chasing Comet ISON

Skyhound's Guide to Comets
Skyhound's Guide to Finding Comets
BAA Comet Section
Astronomical Headlines (IAU)
Cometography