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/2014 E2 (Jacques): A morning comet visible in binoculars
This comet begins the month in Auriga at magnitude 6.7. Look for a 9' coma. It should fade slowly, moving into Cepheus by month's end.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility August 2 Visibility August 9 Visibility August 16 Visibility August 23 Visibility August 30 Nights Visible
55o N Fairly high in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~01:10 High during morning twilight at ~02:10 Fairly high during evening twilight at ~21:50 High at ~01:50 High at ~23:10 1-
40o N Fairly high at ~03:10 High during morning twilight at ~03:40 Fairly high in the northern sky at ~22:30 High at ~02:50 High at ~23:10 1-
Equator Fairly high in the northern sky at ~04:50 Fairly high during morning twilight at ~05:00 Fairly high during morning twilight at ~04:50 Fairly high in the northern sky at ~02:50 Fairly high at ~23:10 1-
30o S Low in the northern sky during morning twilight at ~05:30 Low in the northern sky during morning twilight at ~05:40 Not visible Not visible Not visible 1-16, 31-

C/2013 V5 (Oukaimeden): A morning comet visible in binoculars
This comet begins the month in Orion at magnitude 10.8. Look for a 4.5' coma. It should brighten rapidly, moving into Monoceros by month's end.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility August 2 Visibility August 9 Visibility August 16 Visibility August 23 Visibility August 30 Nights Visible
55o N Not visible Not visible Not visible Very low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~03:00 Very low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~03:20 4-
40o N Not visible Not visible Low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~03:50 Low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~03:50 Low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~04:00 1-
Equator Fairly high in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~04:50 Not visible Fairly high during morning twilight at ~05:00 Fairly high at ~04:50 Fairly high at ~04:50 1-
30o S Fairly high in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~05:20 Not visible Fairly high in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~05:20 Fairly high in the eastern sky at ~05:00 Fairly high at ~05:00 1-

C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring): A southern hemisphere morning comet visible in small telescopes
This comet begins the month in Eridanus at magnitude 10.3. Look for a 6.5' coma. It should brighten rapidly, moving into Tucana by month's end. The best visibility is late in the month as seen from the southern hemisphere.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility August 2 Visibility August 9 Visibility August 16 Visibility August 23 Visibility August 30 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 ~04:50 High in moonlight at ~04:40 Fairly high in moonlight at ~04:50 Fairly high in the southern sky at ~04:00 Low in the southern sky at ~01:30 1-
30o S High at ~05:10 High in moonlight at ~04:20 Fairly high at ~00:00 High at ~04:00 High at ~01:30 1-

C/2012 X1 (LINEAR): A morning comet visible in small telescopes
This comet begins the month in Grus at magnitude 9.9. Look for a 4' coma. It should fade by about 0.9 magnitudes, moving into Indus by month's end. The best visibility is early in the month as seen from the southern hemisphere.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility August 2 Visibility August 9 Visibility August 16 Visibility August 23 Visibility August 30 Nights Visible
55o N Not visible Not visible Not visible Not visible Not visible  
40o N Very low in the southern sky at ~01:30 Not visible Not visible Not visible Not visible 1-6
Equator High at ~01:30 High in moonlight at ~01:00 Fairly high at ~23:20 High at ~23:50 Fairly high at ~23:20 1-
30o S High at ~01:30 High in moonlight at ~01:00 High at ~00:00 High at ~23:50 High at ~23:20 1-

C/2012 K1 (PANSTARRS): A morning comet visible in an 8-inch (20 cm) telescope
This comet begins the month in Leo at magnitude 8.4. Look for a 5' coma. It should brighten by about 0.6 magnitudes, moving into Cancer by month's end.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility August 2 Visibility August 9 Visibility August 16 Visibility August 23 Visibility August 30 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 28-
Equator Not visible Not visible Not visible Not visible Very low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~05:00 22-
30o S Not visible Not visible Not visible Not visible Very low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~05:10 24-

C/2013 UQ4 (Catalina): An evening comet visible in very large telescopes
This comet begins the month in Bootes at magnitude 12.1. Look for a 3' coma. It should fade rapidly.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility August 2 Visibility August 9 Visibility August 16 Visibility August 23 Visibility August 30 Nights Visible
55o N Fairly high in the western sky during evening twilight at ~23:00 Fairly high in the western sky during evening twilight at ~21:40 Low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~21:50 Low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~21:30 Low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~21:00 1-
40o N Fairly high in the western sky at ~22:20 High during evening twilight at ~20:30 Fairly high at ~20:40 Fairly high in the western sky during evening twilight at ~20:20 Fairly high in the western sky during evening twilight at ~20:10 1-
Equator High in moonlight at ~19:20 High during evening twilight at ~19:10 High at ~19:20 Fairly high at ~19:20 Fairly high during evening twilight at ~19:10 1-
30o S Fairly high during evening twilight at ~18:50 Fairly high during evening twilight at ~18:40 Fairly high in the northern sky at ~19:00 Fairly high in the western sky at ~19:00 Fairly high in the western sky during evening twilight at ~19:00 1-

C/2011 J2 (LINEAR): A morning comet visible in very large telescopes
This comet begins the month in Cassiopeia at magnitude 13.2. Look for a 1' coma. It should remain constant.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility August 2 Visibility August 9 Visibility August 16 Visibility August 23 Visibility August 30 Nights Visible
55o N High during morning twilight at ~00:40 High during morning twilight at ~01:40 High during evening twilight at ~21:50 High at ~01:40 High at ~01:30 1-
40o N High at ~03:00 High in moonlight at ~02:10 High at ~22:30 High at ~02:10 High at ~01:30 1-
Equator Fairly high at ~04:10 Fairly high in moonlight at ~03:00 Fairly high in the northern sky at ~23:20 Fairly high at ~02:10 Fairly high at ~01:30 1-
30o S Very low in the northern sky at ~04:10 Not visible Very low in the northern sky in moonlight at ~02:50 Very low in the northern sky at ~02:10 Very low in the northern sky at ~01:30 1-7, 15-

 

17P/Holmes: A morning comet visible in very large telescopes
This comet begins the month in Perseus at magnitude 13.2. Look for a 1' coma. It should remain constant.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility August 2 Visibility August 9 Visibility August 16 Visibility August 23 Visibility August 30 Nights Visible
55o N Fairly high in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~01:00 High during morning twilight at ~02:10 High during morning twilight at ~02:20 High at ~02:20 High at ~02:40 1-
40o N High at ~03:10 High during morning twilight at ~03:40 High during morning twilight at ~03:40 High at ~03:30 High at ~03:40 1-
Equator High at ~04:50 High during morning twilight at ~05:00 High during morning twilight at ~04:50 High at ~04:40 High at ~04:40 1-
30o S Low in the northern sky at ~05:20 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 northern sky at ~05:00 Low in the northern sky at ~05:00 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 E2 (Jacques) Auriga 6.7 5.1' 6.8 7.3' 7.1 9.3' 2014 August 1
C/2012 K1 (PANSTARRS)* Leo 8.4 4.3' 8.0 4.5' 7.8 4.8' 2014 July 27
C/2012 X1 (LINEAR) Grus 9.9 4.2' 10.2 3.9' 10.7 3.5' 2014 July 30
C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring) Eridanus 10.3 4.1' 9.5 5.3' 8.7 6.6' 2014 July 31
C/2013 V5 (Oukaimeden) Orion 10.8 1.9' 9.4 2.5' 7.3 4.1' 2014 July 31
C/2013 UQ4 (Catalina) Bootes 12.1 3.3' 13.4 2.1' 14.6 1.6' 2014 July 25
17P/Holmes Perseus 12.5 58" 12.6 1.0' 12.6 1.1' 2013 August 1
C/2011 J2 (LINEAR) Cassiopeia 13.2 1.2' 13.2 1.3' 13.2 1.3' 2014 August 1
29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann Libra 13.8 44" 13.9 42" 14.0 41" 2014 May 29
117P/Helin-Roman-Alu Microscopium 14.0 1.2' 14.0 1.2' 14.2 1.1' 2014 May 27
C/2013 R1 (Lovejoy) Libra 14.0 44" 14.5 39" 15.0 35" 2014 May 31
C/2010 S1 (LINEAR) Aquila 14.0 27" 14.1 26" 14.3 25" 2014 July 25
134P/Kowal-Vavrova Libra 14.4 1.3' 14.7 1.2' 14.9 1.1' 2014 July 2
C/2013 Y2 (PANSTARRS) Corvus 14.5 51" 14.7 47" 15.1 43" 2014 June 25
C/2006 S3 (LONEOS) Virgo 14.6 29" 14.7 29" 14.8 28" 2014 June 25
P/2014 L2 (NEOWISE) Pisces 14.6 22" 14.5 24" 14.5 25" 2014 July 26
C/2012 F3 (PANSTARRS) Virgo 14.7 30" 14.7 29" 14.7 29" 2014 June 22
290P/Jager Sextans 14.7 34" 14.9 33" 15.2 31" 2014 May 1
C/2013 V1 (Boattini) Canes Venatici 14.9 42" 15.2 40" 15.6 37" 2014 July 25

*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