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 US10 (Catalina): A southern hemisphere evening comet visible in binoculars
This comet begins the month in Tucana at magnitude 7.5. Look for a 11' coma. It should brighten by about 0.9 magnitudes, moving into Triangulum Australe by month's end. The best visibility is late in the month as seen from the southern hemisphere.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility August 1 Visibility August 8 Visibility August 15 Visibility August 22 Visibility August 29 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 the southern sky in moonlight at ~02:00 Low in the southern sky at ~00:00 Low in the southern sky at ~21:20 Fairly high in the southern sky during evening twilight at ~19:20 Fairly high in the southern sky during evening twilight at ~19:10 1-
30o S Fairly high in the southern sky at ~19:00 High at ~00:00 High at ~21:20 Fairly high in the southern sky at ~00:40 High in moonlight at ~19:20 1-

C/2014 Q1 (PANSTARRS): A southern hemisphere evening comet visible in binoculars
This comet begins the month in Sextans at magnitude 6.9. Look for a 5' coma. It should fade rapidly, moving into Centaurus by month's end. The best visibility is early in the month as seen from the southern hemisphere.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility August 1 Visibility August 8 Visibility August 15 Visibility August 22 Visibility August 29 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 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 Low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~19:00 Not visible 1-
30o S Low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~18:50 Fairly high in the western sky during evening twilight at ~18:50 Fairly high in the western sky at ~19:00 Fairly high in the western sky during evening twilight at ~18:50 Not visible 1-

C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy): An evening comet visible in small telescopes
This comet begins the month in Draco at magnitude 10.0. Look for a 5' coma. It should fade by about 0.8 magnitudes, moving into Bootes by month's end.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility August 1 Visibility August 8 Visibility August 15 Visibility August 22 Visibility August 29 Nights Visible
55o N High during evening twilight at ~22:50 High during evening twilight at ~23:00 High during evening twilight at ~22:30 High at ~22:20 High during evening twilight at ~21:00 1-
40o N High in moonlight at ~21:10 High at ~21:00 High at ~20:50 Fairly high at ~23:00 High during evening twilight at ~20:00 1-
Equator Fairly high during evening twilight at ~19:20 Fairly high at ~19:30 Fairly high at ~19:20 Fairly high during evening twilight at ~19:20 Fairly high during evening twilight at ~19:10 1-
30o S Not visible Very low in the northern sky during evening twilight at ~18:40 Very low in the northern sky during evening twilight at ~18:50 Low in the northern sky during evening twilight at ~18:50 Low in the northern sky during evening twilight at ~18:40 2-

22P/Kopff: An evening comet visible in small telescopes
This comet begins the month in Virgo at magnitude 10.8. Look for a 55" coma. It should brighten by about 0.7 magnitudes, moving into Libra by month's end. The best visibility is late in the month as seen from the southern hemisphere.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility August 1 Visibility August 8 Visibility August 15 Visibility August 22 Visibility August 29 Nights Visible
55o N Not visible Not visible Not visible Not visible Not visible 1-
40o N Fairly high in the western sky during evening twilight at ~20:30 Low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~20:40 Low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~20:30 Low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~20:00 Low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~19:40 1-
Equator High during evening twilight at ~19:20 High at ~19:20 High at ~19:20 High during evening twilight at ~19:10 High during evening twilight at ~19:00 1-
30o S High at ~18:50 High at ~19:00 High at ~19:00 High during evening twilight at ~18:50 High during evening twilight at ~18:50 1-

C/2015 F4 (Jacques): An evening comet visible in small telescopes
This comet begins the month in Cygnus at magnitude 10.9. Look for a 1' coma. It should fade by about 0.6 magnitudes, moving into Lyra by month's end.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility August 1 Visibility August 8 Visibility August 15 Visibility August 22 Visibility August 29 Nights Visible
55o N High during evening twilight at ~23:20 High at ~23:10 High at ~22:40 High at ~22:20 High during evening twilight at ~21:20 1-
40o N High in moonlight at ~23:10 High at ~22:10 High at ~21:30 High at ~23:00 High in moonlight at ~21:00 1-
Equator Fairly high during evening twilight at ~19:20 High at ~22:10 High at ~21:30 Fairly high at ~00:00 High in moonlight at ~20:40 1-
30o S Fairly high in the northern sky in moonlight at ~23:00 Fairly high in the northern sky at ~22:10 Fairly high in the northern sky at ~21:30 Low in the northern sky in moonlight at ~20:50 Low in the northern sky in moonlight at ~20:30 1-

141P/Machholz: A morning comet visible in a 6-inch (15 cm) telescope
This comet begins the month in Perseus at magnitude 12.2. Look for a 35" coma. It should brighten by about 0.8 magnitudes, moving into Gemini by month's end. It will reach perihelion in late August. FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility August 1 Visibility August 8 Visibility August 15 Visibility August 22 Visibility August 29 Nights Visible
55o N Fairly high in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~02:00 Fairly high in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~01:50 Fairly high in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~02:10 Low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~02:30 Fairly high in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~03:20 1-
40o N Fairly high during morning twilight at ~03:30 Fairly high during morning twilight at ~03:30 Fairly high in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~03:30 Fairly high in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~03:40 Fairly high in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~04:10 1-
Equator Fairly high during morning twilight at ~05:00 Fairly high in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~04:50 Fairly high in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~04:50 Fairly high in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~04:50 Fairly high in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~05:00 1-
30o S Low in the northern sky during morning twilight at ~05:40 Low in the northern sky during morning twilight at ~05:30 Low in the northern sky during morning twilight at ~05:20 Low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~05:20 Low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~05:20 1-

29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann: An evening comet visible in a 12.5-inch (32 cm) telescope
This comet begins the month in Scorpius at magnitude 12.9. Look for a 50" coma. It should fade slowly, 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 August 1 Visibility August 8 Visibility August 15 Visibility August 22 Visibility August 29 Nights Visible
55o N Not visible Not visible Not visible Not visible Not visible  
40o N Low in the southern sky during evening twilight at ~21:00 Low in the southern sky during evening twilight at ~20:50 Low in the southern sky during evening twilight at ~20:40 Low in the southern sky during evening twilight at ~20:10 Low in the southern sky during evening twilight at ~19:50 1-
Equator High during evening twilight at ~19:20 High at ~20:10 High at ~19:40 High in moonlight at ~19:20 High in moonlight at ~19:40 1-
30o S High at ~19:00 High at ~20:10 High at ~19:40 Fairly high in the western sky at ~00:40 High in moonlight at ~19:40 1-

C/2012 F3 (PANSTARRS): An evening comet visible in a 12.5-inch (32 cm) telescope
This comet begins the month in Aquila at magnitude 13.4. Look for a 40" coma. It should fade slowly, moving into Sagittarius by month's end.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility August 1 Visibility August 8 Visibility August 15 Visibility August 22 Visibility August 29 Nights Visible
55o N Fairly high in the southern sky during evening twilight at ~22:40 Fairly high in the southern sky during evening twilight at ~22:40 Fairly high in the southern sky during evening twilight at ~22:20 Fairly high in the southern sky at ~22:20 Fairly high in the southern sky during evening twilight at ~21:00 1-
40o N Fairly high in moonlight at ~22:30 Fairly high at ~22:00 Fairly high at ~21:30 Fairly high at ~23:00 Fairly high in moonlight at ~20:40 1-
Equator High during evening twilight at ~19:20 High at ~22:00 High at ~21:30 High at ~00:00 High in moonlight at ~20:40 1-
30o S Fairly high at ~19:00 High at ~22:00 High at ~21:30 Fairly high at ~00:40 High in moonlight at ~20:50 1-

88P/Howell: A morning comet visible in very large telescopes
This comet begins the month in Aries at magnitude 11.6. Look for a 3.5' coma. It should fade slowly.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility August 1 Visibility August 8 Visibility August 15 Visibility August 22 Visibility August 29 Nights Visible
55o N Fairly high in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~02:10 Fairly high in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~01:40 Fairly high during morning twilight at ~02:00 Fairly high during morning twilight at ~02:20 High during morning twilight at ~03:10 1-
40o N High during morning twilight at ~03:30 High in moonlight at ~03:20 High at ~03:20 High at ~03:30 High during morning twilight at ~03:50 1-
Equator High during morning twilight at ~05:00 High in moonlight at ~04:40 High at ~04:40 High at ~04:30 High in moonlight at ~04:00 1-
30o S High during morning twilight at ~05:20 High in moonlight at ~05:10 High at ~05:00 High at ~04:50 High in moonlight at ~04:10 1-

67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko: A morning comet visible in very large telescopes
This comet begins the month in Taurus at magnitude 12.9. Look for a 55" coma. It should remain constant, moving into Gemini by month's end. It will reach perihelion in mid August.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility August 1 Visibility August 8 Visibility August 15 Visibility August 22 Visibility August 29 Nights Visible
55o N Low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~02:20 Low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~02:10 Low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~02:20 Low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~02:30 Fairly high in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~03:20 1-
40o N Fairly high in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~03:40 Fairly high in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~03:30 Fairly high in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~03:40 Fairly high in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~03:40 Fairly high in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~04:10 1-
Equator Fairly high in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~05:00 Fairly high in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~04:50 Fairly high in the eastern sky at ~04:50 Fairly high in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~04:50 Fairly high in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~05:00 1-
30o S Low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~05:40 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 ~05:10 Low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~05:20 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

August 1st

August 15th

August 31st

Observations as of (UT)
Mag Diam Mag Diam Mag Diam
C/2014 Q1 (PANSTARRS) Sextans 6.9 4.9' 8.6 4.3' 10.1 3.6' 2015 July 29
C/2013 US10 (Catalina) Tucana 7.5 11.5' 6.9 12.4' 6.6 11.3' 2015 July 28
C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy) Draco 10.0 4.9' 10.3 4.6' 10.7 4.3' 2015 July 26
C/2015 F4 (Jacques) Cygnus 10.9 1.3' 11.2 1.2' 11.6 60" 2015 July 29
22P/Kopff Virgo 11.3 1.8' 11.0 1.7' 10.6 1.7' 2015 July 11
88P/Howell Aries 11.6 3.3' 11.8 3.4' 12.0 3.5' 2015 July 28
C/2015 G2 (MASTER) Cancer 12.2 1.9' 12.9 1.8' 13.4 1.7' 2015 June 10
141P/Machholz Perseus 12.2 46" 11.2 40" 11.5 33" 2015 July 12
19P/Borrelly* Cancer 12.6? 1'? 13.2? 1'? 13.9? 1'? 2015 March 21
67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko Taurus 12.9 56" 12.8 57" 12.9 57" 2015 July 28
29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann Scorpius 12.9 49" 13.0 47" 13.1 45" 2015 July 22
C/2012 F3 (PANSTARRS) Aquila 13.4 43" 13.5 41" 13.8 38" 2015 July 19
C/2011 KP36 (Spacewatch) Aquarius 14.4 26" 14.4 26" 14.3 26" 2015 July 19
57P/du Toit-Neujmin-Delporte Pisces 14.6 1.1' 14.7 1.1' 14.8 1.2' 2015 July 22

*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