Comet Chasing in June


Comet chasing is the visual observation of telescopic comets.  Jump to:  Observing synopses    Summary data    Buy me a Coffee 


This month there are three comets visible in binoculars and small telescopes. Many more are visible in larger instruments. See the Observing Synopses for which comets are visible from your latitude, the best dates and the time of night.
  • Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks passed perihelion on April 21 and has become a southern-hemisphere object. It continues to impress in images, now showing a small dust tail. This well-documented comet, perhaps observed as early as the year 245, experienced a large unexpected outburst in late July 2023, catapulting from a magnitude of 16.6 to 11.6 in a single day. Afterward it displayed an unusual coma shape, characterized by a distinctive 'notch' and a pair of 'horns' that persisted for weeks. The same pattern repeated in the following months, except in recent outbursts the 'horns' have become longer and crived.  Here is a link to a video with an animation of the July outburst aftermath 

  • 13P/Olbers will reach perihelion in late June. It is predicted to obtain maximum brightness of magnitude ~5 in early July.

  • C/2023 A3 (Tsuchinshan-ATLAS) has the potential to be a bright naked eye comet in the fall. It will reach perihelion on September 28, 2024.

  • C/2021 S3 (PANSTARRS) passed perihelion in mid February 2024. It is now fading slowly, but continues to display a nce tail in images.  

  • C/2023 V4 (Camarasa-Duszanowicz) is past perihelion, which occurred in late May 2024. It is predicted to reach maximum brightness of magnitude 11.2 in early June.

  • 479P/Elenin passed perihelion in early May. Also in early May this comet passed within 0.6 AU of the earth.

  • C/2023 C2 (ATLAS) will reach perihelion in mid November. It is predicted to reach maximum brightness of magnitude 13.5 in late October.

  • C/2023 R2 (PANSTARRS) will reach perihelion on August 12. It is predicted to reach maximum brightness of magnitude 11.5 in mid August.

  • 62P/Tsuchinshan passed perihelion in late December. In late January 2024, this comet passed within 0.5 AU of the earth. 

  • 144P/Kushida passed perihelion in late January 2024. In January magnitude estimates were about 1.5 magnitude brighter than previous. This comet has an orbital period of 7.5 years and is now on its way out of the inner solar system.  It will next reach perihelion in late July 2031.

  • 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann has frequent outbursts, typically resulting in a brightening of 0.5 - 1.0 magnitudes, which occur roughly every 59 days, typically taking 5-10 days to subside. Up to three subsequent outbursts may occur 5-10 days afterward, each typically smaller than the last, although on some occasions they can be even brighter than the first. These outbursts make 29P one of the most interesting comets to follow, both visually and scientifically. 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann has a 14.8-year orbital period, and last passed perihelion in early March 2019. It varies in its distance from the Sun from 5.8 AU (at perihelion) to 6.3 AU (at aphelion), which is an unusually small variation for a comet, and remains quite far from the sun at all times. This means that it can be observed more or less continuously.

  • C/2014 UN271 (Bernardinelli-Bernstein) is an interesting Oort cloud comet that was reported as a result of the Dark Energy Survey. Soon after it was made public, images showed a cometary coma. Discovery credit goes to Pedro Bernardinelli and Gary Bernstein. This is a remarkable comet that was at 29 AU in 2014, with a perihelion of 10.9 AU in 2031. Its orbit extends out to 40,000 AU! It was unusually bright for its distance. HST obsrvations that isolate the nucleus estimate the diamter to be between 120 and 140 km, making this possibly the largest comet nucleus yet measured. Because of its distant perihelion, this comet is not expected to become bright enough to be visually observed except in large instruments, and not until the end of the decade, but it is likely going to be the subject of intense scientific scrutiny. 

Comets that have apparently disentegrated: CC/2022 S3 (PANSTARRS), C/2021 P4 (ATLAS), C/2020 Q1 (Borisov), C/2020 P1 (NEOWISE), and C/2019 Y4 (ATLAS). Beware that various other sources often fail to keep track of whether or not a comet still exists!

Comet Visibility in the Eyepiece

This page uses code developed for SkyTools 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! The predictions are makde for a Country/Suburban site, which is Bortle 5, unless indicated otherwse.

Observing Synopses for June


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

12P/Pons-Brooks: A southern hemisphere evening comet visible in binoculars
This comet begins the month in Lepus at magnitude 6.2. Look for a 4.5' coma, condensation is a diffuse spot in coma center; moderately condensed. It should fade by about 1.4 magnitudes, moving into Puppis by month's end. The best visibility is early in the month as seen from the southern hemisphere.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility June 1 Visibility June 8 Visibility June 15 Visibility June 22 Visibility June 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 Not visible Not visible Not visible Not visible Not visible 1-7
30o S Fairly high in the western sky during evening twilight at ~18:10 Fairly high in the western sky during evening twilight at ~18:10 Fairly high in the western sky during evening twilight at ~18:10 Fairly high in the western sky during evening twilight at ~18:20 Fairly high in the western sky during evening twilight at ~18:20 1-

13P/Olbers: A northern hemisphere evening comet visible in small telescopes, may be visible in binoculars as the month ends
This comet begins the month in Auriga at magnitude 7.7. Look for a 2.5' coma, diffuse condensation at center. It should brighten by about 0.9 magnitudes, moving into Lynx by month's end.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility June 1 Visibility June 8 Visibility June 15 Visibility June 22 Visibility June 29 Nights Visible
55o N Not visible Low in the northern sky during evening twilight at ~22:30 Low in the northern sky during evening twilight at ~22:40 Low in the northern sky during evening twilight at ~22:50 Low in the northern sky during evening twilight at ~22:50 1-
40o N Low 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 ~20:40 Low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~20:50 Low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~20:50 1-
Equator Not visible Not visible Very 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 1-
30o S Not visible Not visible Not visible Not visible Not visible  

C/2023 A3 (Tsuchinshan-ATLAS): An evening comet visible in binoculars at a dark site, or a small telescope under a country sky
This comet begins the month in Virgo at magnitude 9.7. Look for a 1.5' coma, condensation is a bright diffuse spot at center of coma. It should brighten by about 0.7 magnitudes, moving into Leo by month's end.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility June 1 Visibility June 8 Visibility June 15 Visibility June 22 Visibility June 29 Nights Visible
55o N Not visible Not visible Not visible Not visible Not visible 1-29
40o N High during evening twilight at ~21:10 High during evening twilight at ~20:50 Fairly high during evening twilight at ~21:00 Fairly high in the western sky during evening twilight at ~20:50 Fairly high in the western sky during evening twilight at ~20:40 1-
Equator High at ~19:30 High at ~19:20 High during evening twilight at ~19:10 High during evening twilight at ~19:10 High during evening twilight at ~19:20 1-
30o S High at ~19:20 High at ~18:40 High during evening twilight at ~18:30 High during evening twilight at ~18:20 High during evening twilight at ~18:30 1-

C/2021 S3 (PANSTARRS): A northern hemisphere morning comet visible in a 6-inch (15 cm) telescope at a dark site, or a 12.5-inch (32 cm) under a country sky
This comet begins the month in Cygnus at magnitude 11.9. Look for a 1.5' coma, center much brighter than edges, though still diffuse. It should fade by about 0.7 magnitudes, moving into Draco by month's end.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility June 1 Visibility June 8 Visibility June 15 Visibility June 22 Visibility June 29 Nights Visible
55o N High during morning twilight at ~00:00 High during morning twilight at ~00:00 Not visible Not visible Not visible 1-
40o N High at ~02:30 High at ~02:30 High at ~02:20 High during evening twilight at ~21:30 High at ~00:50 1-
Equator Fairly high in moonlight at ~03:50 Fairly high at ~03:20 Fairly high in the northern sky at ~02:50 Not visible Not visible 1-
30o S Not visible Not visible Not visible Not visible Not visible  

C/2023 V4 (Camarasa-Duszanowicz): A far-northern evening comet visible in an 8-inch (20 cm) telescope at a dark site, or a 18-inch (46 cm) under a country sky
This comet begins the month in Auriga at magnitude 11.2. Look for a 1' coma, diffuse condensation at center. It should fade slowly, moving into Lynx by month's end.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility June 1 Visibility June 8 Visibility June 15 Visibility June 22 Visibility June 29 Nights Visible
55o N Low in the northern sky during evening twilight at ~23:50 Low in the northern sky during evening twilight at ~23:50 Fairly high in the northern sky during evening twilight at ~00:00 Fairly high in the northern sky during evening twilight at ~00:00 Fairly high in the northern sky during evening twilight at ~00:00 1-
40o N Not visible Low in the northern sky during evening twilight at ~21:00 Low in the northern sky during evening twilight at ~21:10 Fairly high in the northern sky during evening twilight at ~21:10 Fairly high in the northern sky during evening twilight at ~21:20 1-
Equator Not visible Not visible Not visible Not visible Not visible  
30o S Not visible Not visible Not visible Not visible Not visible  

479P/Elenin: A southern hemisphere evening comet visible in a 16-inch (41 cm) telescope at a dark site
This comet begins the month in Hydra at magnitude 13.5. Look for a 1' coma, center much brighter than edges, though still diffuse. It should fade by about 1.0 magnitudes by month's end. The best visibility is early in the month as seen from the southern hemisphere.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility June 1 Visibility June 8 Visibility June 15 Visibility June 22 Visibility June 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 High during evening twilight at ~19:20 High during evening twilight at ~19:20 Not visible High during evening twilight at ~19:10 High at ~19:20 1-14, 22-
30o S High at ~18:40 High at ~18:40 Not visible High during evening twilight at ~18:20 High at ~18:40 1-15, 22-

C/2023 C2 (ATLAS): A southern hemisphere evening comet visible in a 16-inch (41 cm) telescope at a dark site
This comet begins the month in Apus at magnitude 14.2. Look for a 50" coma, diffuse condensation at center. It should brighten slowly. The best visibility is late in the month as seen from the southern hemisphere.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility June 1 Visibility June 8 Visibility June 15 Visibility June 22 Visibility June 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 Not visible Not visible Not visible Not visible Not visible  
30o S High at ~23:20 High at ~22:30 High at ~01:00 High during evening twilight at ~18:20 High at ~20:50 1-

C/2021 G2 (Atlas): A southern hemisphere evening comet visible in a 16-inch (41 cm) telescope at a dark site
This comet begins the month in Hydra at magnitude 13.9. Look for a 1' coma, condensation is a diffuse spot in coma center; moderately condensed. It should fade slowly, moving into Corvus by month's end. The best visibility is early in the month as seen from the southern hemisphere.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility June 1 Visibility June 8 Visibility June 15 Visibility June 22 Visibility June 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 High at ~19:20 High at ~19:20 High during evening twilight at ~19:20 High during evening twilight at ~19:10 High during evening twilight at ~19:20 1-
30o S High at ~19:10 High at ~18:50 High during evening twilight at ~18:30 High during evening twilight at ~18:20 High at ~18:40 1-

C/2020 V2 (ZTF): A southern hemisphere morning comet visible in a 24-inch telescope at a dark site
This comet begins the month in Phoenix at magnitude 13.6. Look for a 1.5' coma, diffuse condensation at center. It should remain constant. The best visibility is mid-month as seen from the southern hemisphere.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility June 1 Visibility June 8 Visibility June 15 Visibility June 22 Visibility June 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 Not visible Not visible Not visible Not visible Not visible 30-
30o S High during morning twilight at ~05:30 High during morning twilight at ~05:30 High at ~05:30 Not visible High in moonlight at ~05:20 1-20, 26-

Summary Data for This Month's Telescopic Comets


Comets brighter than 16th 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
12P/Pons-Brooks Lepus 6.2 4.6' 6.9 4.6' 7.6 4.3' 2024 May 28
13P/Olbers Auriga 7.7 2.5' 7.1 2.6' 6.8 2.7' 2024 June 1
C/2023 A3 (Tsuchinshan-ATLAS) Virgo 9.7 1.5' 9.4 1.5' 9.0 1.4' 2024 June 1
C/2023 V4 (Camarasa-Duszanowicz) Auriga 11.2 57" 11.2 60" 11.5 1.0' 2024 May 29
C/2021 S3 (PANSTARRS) Cygnus 11.9 1.3' 12.2 1.2' 12.6 1.1' 2024 May 26
29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann Cancer 13.4 1.3' 13.4 1.3' 13.5 1.3' 2024 May 26
479P/Elenin Hydra 13.5 1.1' 13.9 59" 14.4 51" 2024 April 29
C/2020 V2 (ZTF) Phoenix 13.6 1.4' 13.6 1.5' 13.6 1.5' 2024 May 31
C/2021 G2 (Atlas) Hydra 13.9 1.0' 14.0 59" 14.0 57" 2024 April 29
C/2022 E2 (ATLAS) Gemini 14.1 36" 14.1 35" 14.1 35" 2024 May 29
C/2023 C2 (ATLAS) Apus 14.2 48" 14.0 50" 13.7 52" 2024 May 31
473P/NEAT Camelopardalis 14.8 1.9' 15.2 1.8' 15.6 1.7' 2024 May 28
32P/Comas Sola Gemini 14.9 50" 15.1 48" 15.3 47" 2024 May 13
C/2017 K2 (PANSTARRS) Orion 15.2 47" 15.3 46" 15.4 45" 2024 April 12
C/2019 U5 (PANSTARRS) Canis Major 15.2 23" 15.3 22" 15.5 22" 2024 May 31
130P/McNaught-Hughes Cetus 15.2 59" 15.2 1.0' 15.3 1.1' 2023 April 28
C/2022 L2 (ATLAS) Hydra 15.3 32" 15.6 28" 15.9 26" 2024 May 31
144P/Kushida Leo 15.5 1.3' 16.4 1.2' 17.3 1.0' 2024 April 29
C/2019 T4 (ATLAS) Hercules 15.6 47" 15.7 47" 15.8 46" 2024 May 25
299P/Catalina-PANSTARRS Libra 15.8 38" 15.9 36" 16.0 35" 2024 January 9
C/2022 S4 (Lemmon) Eridanus 16.0 23" 15.9 25" 15.8 26" 2024 January 9
*In solar conjunction and generally not visible 

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

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

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

Select comets that are appropriate for your imaging system, and plan when they are best imaged: Software for comet imaging 
 

Links

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