Comet Chasing in April


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 April


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

C/2012 X1 (LINEAR): A morning comet visible in small telescopes
This comet begins the month in Aquila at magnitude 8.4. Look for a 4' coma. It should fade slowly, moving into Capricornus by month's end.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility March 29 Visibility April 5 Visibility April 12 Visibility April 19 Visibility April 26 Nights Visible
55o N Low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~03:50 Low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~03:30 Low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~03:40 Very low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~03:20 Very low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~02:50 1-
40o N Fairly high in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~04:20 Fairly high in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~04:10 Fairly high in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~04:20 Fairly high in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~04:00 Fairly high in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~03:30 1-
Equator High at ~04:50 High at ~04:50 High at ~04:40 High during morning twilight at ~04:50 High at ~04:40 1-
30o S Fairly high at ~04:50 High at ~04:50 High at ~04:50 High during morning twilight at ~05:10 High at ~05:00 1-

C/2012 K1 (PANSTARRS): An evening comet visible in small telescopes
This comet begins the month in Corona Borealis at magnitude 10.2. Look for a 2.5' coma. It should brighten by about 1.1 magnitudes, moving into Ursa Major by month's end.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility March 29 Visibility April 5 Visibility April 12 Visibility April 19 Visibility April 26 Nights Visible
55o N High at ~03:10 High at ~02:30 High in moonlight at ~01:10 High at ~00:00 High at ~23:50 1-
40o N High at ~03:30 High at ~02:50 High during morning twilight at ~04:20 High at ~23:10 High at ~23:50 1-
Equator High at ~03:30 High at ~02:50 Fairly high at ~04:20 Fairly high at ~22:00 High at ~23:50 1-
30o S Fairly high in the northern sky at ~03:30 Fairly high in the northern sky at ~02:50 Low in the northern sky at ~04:20 Low in the northern sky in moonlight at ~01:00 Low in the northern sky at ~23:50 1-

C/2014 E2 (Jacques): An evening comet visible in small telescopes
This comet begins the month in Antlia at magnitude 10.3. Look for a 5.5' coma. It should brighten by about 0.7 magnitudes, moving into Monoceros by month's end.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility March 29 Visibility April 5 Visibility April 12 Visibility April 19 Visibility April 26 Nights Visible
55o N Not visible Very low in the southern sky during evening twilight at ~20:50 Low in the southern sky during evening twilight at ~20:30 Low in the southern sky during evening twilight at ~21:10 Low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~21:30 1-
40o N Low in the southern sky at ~21:50 Fairly high in the southern sky in moonlight at ~20:20 Fairly high in the southern sky during evening twilight at ~20:00 Fairly high in the southern sky during evening twilight at ~20:20 Fairly high in the western sky during evening twilight at ~20:30 1-
Equator High at ~21:50 High at ~23:10 High in moonlight at ~19:20 High at ~19:20 High at ~19:20 1-
30o S High at ~21:50 High at ~22:20 High in moonlight at ~19:10 High at ~19:10 High at ~19:00 1-

C/2013 R1 (Lovejoy): A morning comet visible in a 12.5-inch (32 cm) telescope
This comet begins the month in Scutum at magnitude 10.6. Look for a 5' coma. It should fade by about 0.7 magnitudes, moving into Serpens Cauda by month's end.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility March 29 Visibility April 5 Visibility April 12 Visibility April 19 Visibility April 26 Nights Visible
55o N Fairly high in the southern sky during morning twilight at ~03:30 Fairly high in the southern sky during morning twilight at ~03:10 Fairly high in the southern sky during morning twilight at ~03:20 Fairly high in the southern sky during morning twilight at ~02:50 Low in the southern sky during morning twilight at ~02:00 1-
40o N Fairly high at ~04:10 Fairly high at ~04:00 Fairly high during morning twilight at ~04:20 Fairly high during morning twilight at ~03:50 Fairly high at ~03:10 1-
Equator High at ~04:40 High at ~04:40 High at ~04:30 High in moonlight at ~04:20 High at ~03:30 1-
30o S High at ~04:40 High at ~04:40 High at ~04:40 High in moonlight at ~04:20 High at ~03:40 1-

290P/Jager: An evening comet visible in a 12.5-inch (32 cm) telescope
This comet begins the month in Gemini at magnitude 13.0. Look for a 40" coma. It should fade slowly.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility March 29 Visibility April 5 Visibility April 12 Visibility April 19 Visibility April 26 Nights Visible
55o N High at ~20:40 High during evening twilight at ~20:50 High during evening twilight at ~20:50 Fairly high during evening twilight at ~21:40 Fairly high in the western sky during evening twilight at ~21:50 1-
40o N High at ~20:00 High during evening twilight at ~20:00 High during evening twilight at ~20:00 High at ~20:20 High at ~20:30 1-
Equator High at ~19:20 High in moonlight at ~19:20 High during evening twilight at ~19:10 High at ~19:20 High at ~19:20 1-
30o S Fairly high at ~19:30 Fairly high in moonlight at ~19:10 High during evening twilight at ~19:00 Fairly high at ~19:00 Fairly high at ~19:00 1-

134P/Kowal-Vavrova: An evening comet visible in a 16-inch (41 cm) telescope
This comet begins the month in Virgo at magnitude 12.9. Look for a 1.5' coma. It should brighten slowly.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility March 29 Visibility April 5 Visibility April 12 Visibility April 19 Visibility April 26 Nights Visible
55o N Fairly high in the southern sky at ~01:40 Fairly high in the southern sky at ~01:10 Fairly high in the southern sky in moonlight at ~00:40 Fairly high in the southern sky at ~00:00 Fairly high in the southern sky at ~23:40 1-
40o N Fairly high at ~01:40 Fairly high at ~01:10 Low in the western sky during morning twilight at ~04:20 Fairly high at ~23:10 Fairly high at ~23:40 1-
Equator High at ~01:40 High at ~01:10 Fairly high at ~04:20 High at ~22:00 High at ~23:40 1-
30o S High at ~01:40 High at ~01:10 Fairly high at ~04:20 High at ~21:10 High at ~23:40 1-

C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring): A southern hemisphere evening comet visible in very large telescopes
This comet begins the month in Fornax at magnitude ~13.6. It should brighten by about 0.6 magnitudes by month's end. The best visibility is early in the month as seen from the southern hemisphere.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility March 29 Visibility April 5 Visibility April 12 Visibility April 19 Visibility April 26 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 ~19:00 Not visible Not visible Not visible 1-7, 9-9
30o S Fairly high in the western sky at ~19:20 Fairly high in the western sky during evening twilight at ~19:10 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 ~18:40 1-

C/2006 S3 (LONEOS): An evening comet visible in very large telescopes
This comet begins the month in Virgo at magnitude 13.7. Look for a 1' coma. It should fade slowly.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility March 29 Visibility April 5 Visibility April 12 Visibility April 19 Visibility April 26 Nights Visible
55o N Fairly high in the southern sky at ~00:10 Fairly high in the southern sky at ~01:00 Fairly high in the southern sky in moonlight at ~23:00 Fairly high in the southern sky at ~22:30 Fairly high in the southern sky at ~22:20 1-
40o N Fairly high at ~00:10 Fairly high at ~00:10 Fairly high in moonlight at ~23:00 Fairly high at ~22:30 High at ~22:00 1-
Equator High at ~00:10 High at ~23:40 Very low in the western sky at ~04:20 High at ~22:00 High at ~22:00 1-
30o S High at ~00:10 High at ~23:40 Low in the western sky at ~04:20 High at ~21:10 High at ~22:00 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

April 1st

April 15th

April 30th

Observations as of (UT)
Mag Diam Mag Diam Mag Diam
C/2012 X1 (LINEAR) Aquila 8.4 4.1' 8.5 4.2' 8.6 4.4' 2014 March 30
C/2012 K1 (PANSTARRS) Corona Borealis 10.2 2.1' 9.6 2.4' 9.1 2.6' 2014 March 30
C/2014 E2 (Jacques) Antlia 10.3 6.6' 9.8 6.4' 9.5 5.4' 2014 March 31
C/2013 R1 (Lovejoy) Scutum 10.6 5.1' 11.0 5.2' 11.3 5.3' 2014 March 28
134P/Kowal-Vavrova Virgo 12.9 1.3' 12.7 1.4' 12.7 1.4' 2014 March 28
29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann Lupus 13.0 52" 12.9 53" 12.9 54" 2014 March 13
290P/Jager Gemini 13.0 41" 13.2 38" 13.5 35" 2014 March 23
C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring) Fornax 13.6? 1.2'? 13.3? 1.3'? 13.0? 1.3'? 2014 February 24
C/2006 S3 (LONEOS) Virgo 13.7 1.0' 13.8 1.0' 13.9 59" 2014 March 30
C/2011 J2 (LINEAR) Cassiopeia 13.9 25" 14.0 24" 14.1 24" 2014 March 29
C/2013 Y2 (PANSTARRS) Puppis 14.0 25" 13.9 24" 13.8 24" 2014 March 29
C/2010 S1 (LINEAR) Aquila 14.1 26" 14.1 27" 14.0 28" 2014 March 30
C/2013 V1 (Boattini) Perseus 14.3 20" 14.3 19" 14.3 19" 2014 March 30

*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