Comet Chasing in March


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 March


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

C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy): A northern hemisphere evening comet visible in binoculars
This comet begins the month in Cassiopeia at magnitude 5.6. Look for a 9' coma. It should fade by about 1.3 magnitudes by month's end.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility February 28 Visibility March 7 Visibility March 14 Visibility March 21 Visibility March 28 Nights Visible
55o N Fairly high in the northern sky at ~04:50 High at ~20:00 High at ~20:10 High at ~20:30 Fairly high at ~03:20 1-
40o N High during evening twilight at ~19:10 Fairly high at ~19:30 Fairly high at ~19:40 Fairly high at ~19:50 Fairly high in the northern sky at ~04:20 1-
Equator Low in the northern sky during evening twilight at ~19:10 Very low in the northern sky during evening twilight at ~19:20 Very low in the northern sky during evening twilight at ~19:10 Not visible Not visible 1-24, 26-26
30o S Not visible Not visible Not visible Not visible Not visible  

88P/Howell: A morning comet possibly visible in small telescopes
This comet begins the month in Sagittarius at magnitude 10.6. How visible it will be in the eyepiece will depend on how large and diffuse it is. We will update this page as soon as observations come in. It should brighten slowly, moving into Capricornus by month's end. The best visibility is late in the month as seen from the southern hemisphere.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility February 28 Visibility March 7 Visibility March 14 Visibility March 21 Visibility March 28 Nights Visible
55o N Not visible Not visible Not visible Not visible Not visible  
40o N Very low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~05:30 Very low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~05:20 Very low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~05:10 Very low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~05:00 Very low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~04:50 1-
Equator Fairly high in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~05:00 Fairly high in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~05:10 Fairly high in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~05:00 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 Fairly high in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~04:30 Fairly high during morning twilight at ~04:50 Fairly high in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~04:40 Fairly high in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~04:50 Fairly high during morning twilight at ~04:50 1-

C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring): A morning comet visible in a 10-inch (25 cm) telescope
This comet begins the month in Hercules at magnitude 11.9. Look for a 2' coma. It should fade slowly.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility February 28 Visibility March 7 Visibility March 14 Visibility March 21 Visibility March 28 Nights Visible
55o N High at ~04:40 High during morning twilight at ~04:40 High at ~03:10 High at ~03:40 High at ~03:20 1-
40o N High at ~05:00 High during morning twilight at ~05:00 High at ~02:20 High at ~04:20 High at ~04:00 1-
Equator High at ~05:00 High during morning twilight at ~05:10 High in moonlight at ~04:50 High at ~04:50 High at ~04:40 1-
30o S Fairly high in the northern sky during morning twilight at ~04:30 Fairly high in the northern sky during morning twilight at ~04:50 Fairly high in the northern sky during morning twilight at ~04:40 Low in the northern sky at ~04:40 Low in the northern sky at ~04:40 1-

15P/Finlay: An evening comet visible in a 16-inch (41 cm) telescope
This comet begins the month in Aries at magnitude 10.9. Look for a 3.5' coma. It should fade by about 1.3 magnitudes, moving into Taurus by month's end.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility February 28 Visibility March 7 Visibility March 14 Visibility March 21 Visibility March 28 Nights Visible
55o N Fairly high during evening twilight at ~19:20 Fairly high in the western sky at ~19:50 Fairly high in the western sky at ~20:00 Fairly high in the western sky during evening twilight at ~20:20 Fairly high in the western sky during evening twilight at ~20:20 1-
40o N Fairly high during evening twilight at ~19:10 Fairly high at ~19:30 Fairly high at ~19:40 Fairly high at ~19:50 Fairly high during evening twilight at ~19:40 1-
Equator Fairly high during evening twilight at ~19:20 Fairly high in the western sky at ~19:20 Fairly high in the western sky at ~19:20 Fairly high in the western sky at ~19:20 Fairly high in the western sky during evening twilight at ~19:10 1-
30o S Low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~19:40 Low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~19:30 Low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~19:30 Low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~19:20 Low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~19:00 1-

C/2013 US10 (Catalina): A southern hemisphere morning comet visible in very large telescopes
This comet begins the month in Aquarius at magnitude ~13. There have been no observations reported for this comet since December so it may be significantly brighter or fainter. It should brighten by about 0.6 magnitudes by month's end. The best visibility is late in the month as seen from the southern hemisphere.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility February 28 Visibility March 7 Visibility March 14 Visibility March 21 Visibility March 28 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 Not visible Not visible Not visible Not visible Very low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~05:10 27-
30o S Not visible Not visible Not visible Very low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~05:00 Low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~05:00 15-

C/2014 Q3 (Borisov): A morning comet visible in very large telescopes
This comet begins the month in Cygnus at magnitude ~13. Look for a fairly large coma, perhaps 3-4'. No observations have been reported since November, so it could be significantly brighter or fainter. Regardless, it should fade slowly during the month.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility February 28 Visibility March 7 Visibility March 14 Visibility March 21 Visibility March 28 Nights Visible
55o N High at ~04:40 High during morning twilight at ~04:50 High at ~03:10 High at ~03:50 High at ~03:20 1-
40o N High at ~05:00 High during morning twilight at ~05:00 High in moonlight at ~04:40 High at ~04:20 High at ~04:10 1-
Equator Fairly high in the northern sky during morning twilight at ~05:00 Fairly high in the northern sky during morning twilight at ~05:10 Fairly high in the northern sky during morning twilight at ~05:00 Fairly high at ~04:50 Fairly high at ~04:50 1-
30o S Not visible Not visible Not visible Very low in the northern sky during morning twilight at ~05:00 Very low in the northern sky during morning twilight at ~05:00 18-

C/2012 K1 (PANSTARRS): A southern hemisphere evening comet visible in very large telescopes
This comet begins the month in Cetus at magnitude 13.2. Look for a 1' coma. It should fade by about 0.7 magnitudes by month's end. The best visibility is early in the month as seen from the southern hemisphere.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility February 28 Visibility March 7 Visibility March 14 Visibility March 21 Visibility March 28 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 Very low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~19:10 Not visible Not visible Not visible Not visible 1-2
30o S Low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~19:40 Low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~19:30 Not visible Not visible Not visible 1-5, 7-10, 12-13

19P/Borrelly: A southern hemisphere evening comet visible in very large telescopes
This comet begins the month in Cetus at magnitude 13.9. Look for a 1' coma. It should brighten by about 1.3 magnitudes by month's end. The best visibility is early in the month as seen from the southern hemisphere.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility February 28 Visibility March 7 Visibility March 14 Visibility March 21 Visibility March 28 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 Very low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~19:10 Not visible Not visible Not visible 1-1, 3-10, 15-16
30o S Low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~19:40 Low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~19:30 Very low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~19:20 Very low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~19:10 Not visible 1-18, 20-22, 25-25

  

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

March 1st

March 15th

March 31st

Observations as of (UT)
Mag Diam Mag Diam Mag Diam
C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy) Cassiopeia 5.6 9.8' 6.2 8.3' 6.8 7.2' 2015 February 27
88P/Howell Sagittarius 10.6 1.0' 10.4 1.1' 10.2 1.1' 2015 February 22
15P/Finlay Aries 10.9 3.9' 11.5 3.5' 12.2 3.1' 2015 February 22
C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring) Hercules 11.9 2.2' 12.1 2.3' 12.3 2.3' 2015 February 16
C/2013 US10 (Catalina) Aquarius 13? 1'? 12.5? 1'? 12.? 1'? 2014 December 19
C/2014 Q3 (Borisov) Cygnus 13? 3'? 13? 3'? 13.? 3'? 2014 November 25
C/2012 K1 (PANSTARRS) Cetus 13.2 1.1' 13.6 1.0' 13.9 59" 2015 February 9
C/2014 R1 (Borisov) Ophiuchus 13.5 1.4' 13.8 1.5' 14.1 1.5' 2015 January 25
32P/Comas Sola Leo 13.6 1.2' 13.9 1.2' 14.4 1.1' 2015 February 16
19P/Borrelly Cetus 13.9 1.0' 13.3 1.0' 12.6 1.1' 2015 February 1
110P/Hartley Gemini 14.2 54" 14.4 49" 14.8 44" 2015 February 21
C/2012 F3 (PANSTARRS) Scutum 14.2 34" 14.1 35" 13.9 38" 2015 January 20
C/2014 W11 (PANSTARRS) Cancer 14.4 56" 14.5 54" 14.5 52" 2015 February 21
29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann Scorpius 15.0 1.0' 14.9 1.0' 14.8 1.1' 2015 February 26

*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