Comet Chasing in September


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 September


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

C/2016 A8 (LINEAR): An evening comet visible in small telescopes
This comet begins the month in Cygnus at magnitude 11.1. Look for a 1' coma. It should fade by about 0.8 magnitudes, moving into Aquila by month's end.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility September 3 Visibility September 10 Visibility September 17 Visibility September 24 Visibility October 1 Nights Visible
55o N High at ~21:50 High at ~23:00 High in moonlight at ~20:30 Fairly high during evening twilight at ~20:00 Fairly high during evening twilight at ~19:30 1-
40o N High at ~21:50 High at ~00:00 High in moonlight at ~20:40 High at ~19:30 High at ~19:10 1-
Equator High at ~21:50 High in moonlight at ~20:40 High during evening twilight at ~18:50 High at ~19:10 High at ~19:10 1-
30o S Fairly high at ~21:50 High in moonlight at ~20:40 High during evening twilight at ~18:50 High at ~19:30 High at ~19:20 1-

237P/LINEAR: An evening comet visible in a 10-inch (25 cm) telescope
This comet begins the month in Libra at magnitude 13.4. Look for a 20" coma. It should fade slowly. The best visibility is early in the month as seen from the southern hemisphere.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility September 3 Visibility September 10 Visibility September 17 Visibility September 24 Visibility October 1 Nights Visible
55o N Not visible Not visible Not visible Very low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~19:10 Very low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~19:00 1-
40o N Low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~19:50 Low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~19:30 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 1-
Equator High at ~19:10 High during evening twilight at ~19:00 High during evening twilight at ~18:50 Fairly high during evening twilight at ~19:00 Fairly high during evening twilight at ~19:00 1-
30o S High at ~19:10 High during evening twilight at ~19:00 High during evening twilight at ~18:50 Fairly high during evening twilight at ~19:20 Fairly high during evening twilight at ~19:20 1-

C/2013 X1 (PANSTARRS): A southern hemisphere evening comet visible in a 12.5-inch (32 cm) telescope
This comet begins the month in Hydra at magnitude 11.6. Look for a 6.5' coma. It should fade by about 0.8 magnitudes by month's end. The best visibility is early in the month as seen from the southern hemisphere.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility September 3 Visibility September 10 Visibility September 17 Visibility September 24 Visibility October 1 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 western sky during evening twilight at ~19:10 Fairly high in the western sky during evening twilight at ~19:00 Fairly high in the western sky during evening twilight at ~18:50 Low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~19:00 Low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~18:50 1-
30o S High at ~19:10 Fairly high during evening twilight at ~19:00 Fairly high during evening twilight at ~18:50 Fairly high in the western sky during evening twilight at ~19:20 Low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~19:20 1-

43P/Wolf-Harrington: A morning comet visible in a 12.5-inch (32 cm) telescope
This comet begins the month in Cancer at magnitude 11.8. Look for a 1.5' coma. It should fade slowly, moving into Leo by month's end.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility September 3 Visibility September 10 Visibility September 17 Visibility September 24 Visibility October 1 Nights Visible
55o N Low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~03:20 Low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~03:30 Low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~04:10 Low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~04:00 Low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~04:10 1-
40o N Low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~04:00 Low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~04:10 Fairly high in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~04:30 Fairly high in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~04:30 Fairly high in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~04:30 1-
Equator 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 Fairly high in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~04:40 Fairly high in the eastern sky at ~04:40 1-
30o S Low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~05:00 Low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~04:50 Low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~04:50 Low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~04:30 Low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~04:20 1-

29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann: An evening comet visible in a 16-inch (41 cm) telescope
This comet begins the month in Sagittarius at magnitude 13.8. Look for a 40" coma. It should fade slowly. The best visibility is early in the month as seen from the southern hemisphere.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility September 3 Visibility September 10 Visibility September 17 Visibility September 24 Visibility October 1 Nights Visible
55o N Very low in the southern sky during evening twilight at ~20:50 Very low in the southern sky during evening twilight at ~20:20 Very low in the southern sky during evening twilight at ~19:50 Very low in the southern sky during evening twilight at ~19:40 Very low in the southern sky during evening twilight at ~19:20 1-
40o N Fairly high in the southern sky at ~20:20 Fairly high in the southern sky in moonlight at ~20:00 Fairly high in the southern sky in moonlight at ~20:00 Fairly high in the southern sky at ~19:30 Fairly high in the southern sky at ~19:10 1-
Equator High at ~20:20 High in moonlight at ~19:40 High during evening twilight at ~18:50 High at ~19:20 High at ~19:10 1-
30o S High at ~20:20 High in moonlight at ~19:40 High during evening twilight at ~18:50 High at ~19:30 High at ~19:30 1-

81P/Wild: A southern hemisphere evening comet visible in very large telescopes
This comet begins the month in Virgo at magnitude 12.2. Look for a 3' coma. It should fade by about 0.5 magnitudes by month's end. The best visibility is early in the month as seen from the southern hemisphere.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility September 3 Visibility September 10 Visibility September 17 Visibility September 24 Visibility October 1 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 ~19:00 Very low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~18:50 Very low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~18:50 Very low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~18:50 Very low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~18:40 1-
30o S Low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~19:00 Low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~18:50 Very low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~18:50 Very low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~19:00 Very low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~19:00 1-

9P/Tempel: An evening comet visible in very large telescopes
This comet begins the month in Libra at magnitude 12.8. Look for a 3' coma. It should fade by about 0.8 magnitudes, moving into Scorpius by month's end. The best visibility is early in the month as seen from the southern hemisphere.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility September 3 Visibility September 10 Visibility September 17 Visibility September 24 Visibility October 1 Nights Visible
55o N Not visible Not visible Not visible Not visible Not visible  
40o N Low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~19:50 Low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~19:30 Low in the southern sky during evening twilight at ~19:10 Very low in the southern sky during evening twilight at ~19:10 Very low in the southern sky during evening twilight at ~19:00 1-
Equator High at ~19:10 High during evening twilight at ~19:00 High during evening twilight at ~18:50 Fairly high at ~19:10 Fairly high at ~19:00 1-
30o S High at ~19:10 High during evening twilight at ~19:00 High during evening twilight at ~18:50 High at ~19:20 High at ~19:30 1-

226P/Pigott-LINEAR-Kowalski: A morning comet visible in very large telescopes
This comet begins the month in Orion at magnitude 13.9. Look for a 55" coma. It should brighten slowly, moving into Taurus by month's end.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility September 3 Visibility September 10 Visibility September 17 Visibility September 24 Visibility October 1 Nights Visible
55o N Fairly high in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~03:00 Fairly high at ~03:10 High during morning twilight at ~03:50 High in moonlight at ~03:50 High at ~03:50 1-
40o N High at ~03:50 High at ~04:00 High during morning twilight at ~04:20 High in moonlight at ~04:10 High at ~04:10 1-
Equator High at ~04:40 High at ~04:40 High during morning twilight at ~04:40 High in moonlight at ~04:30 High at ~04:20 1-
30o S High at ~04:50 High at ~04:40 High during morning twilight at ~04:40 Fairly high in the eastern sky at ~02:00 High at ~04:10 1-

C/2015 V2 (Johnson): A far-northern morning comet visible in very large telescopes
This comet begins the month in Ursa Major at magnitude 14.2. Look for a 1' coma. It should brighten by about 0.6 magnitudes by month's end.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility September 3 Visibility September 10 Visibility September 17 Visibility September 24 Visibility October 1 Nights Visible
55o N Fairly high in the northern sky at ~02:50 Fairly high in the northern sky at ~03:10 Fairly high during morning twilight at ~04:00 Fairly high during morning twilight at ~03:50 Fairly high at ~04:00 1-
40o N Low in the northern sky during morning twilight at ~04:00 Fairly high in the northern sky during morning twilight at ~04:10 Low in the northern sky during evening twilight at ~19:20 Fairly high in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~04:20 Fairly high in the eastern sky at ~04:30 1-
Equator Not visible Not visible Not visible Not visible Not visible  
30o S Not visible Not visible Not visible Not visible Not visible  

C/2014 W2 (PANSTARRS): An evening comet visible in very large telescopes
This comet begins the month in Serpens Caput at magnitude 13.7. Look for a 1.5' coma. It should fade slowly.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility September 3 Visibility September 10 Visibility September 17 Visibility September 24 Visibility October 1 Nights Visible
55o N Fairly high during evening twilight at ~21:00 Fairly high during evening twilight at ~20:20 Fairly high during evening twilight at ~19:50 Fairly high in the western sky during evening twilight at ~19:50 Fairly high in the western sky during evening twilight at ~19:30 1-
40o N High at ~20:00 High during evening twilight at ~19:40 Fairly high during evening twilight at ~19:20 Fairly high during evening twilight at ~19:20 Fairly high in the western sky during evening twilight at ~19:10 1-
Equator High at ~19:10 High during evening twilight at ~19:00 High during evening twilight at ~18:50 Fairly high at ~19:00 Fairly high in the western sky during evening twilight at ~19:00 1-
30o S Fairly high in the northern sky during evening twilight at ~19:00 Fairly high in the northern sky during evening twilight at ~19:00 Fairly high in the western sky during evening twilight at ~18:50 Low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~19:10 Low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~19:10 1-

53P/Van Biesbroeck: An evening comet visible in very large telescopes
This comet begins the month in Capricornus at magnitude 13.8. Look for a 1' coma. It should fade 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 September 3 Visibility September 10 Visibility September 17 Visibility September 24 Visibility October 1 Nights Visible
55o N Low in the southern sky at ~22:00 Low in the southern sky at ~23:00 Low in the southern sky in moonlight at ~21:10 Low in the southern sky at ~20:40 Low in the southern sky at ~20:10 1-
40o N Fairly high at ~22:00 Fairly high in the southern sky at ~00:00 Fairly high in moonlight at ~21:20 Fairly high at ~20:40 Fairly high at ~20:10 1-
Equator High at ~22:00 Fairly high at ~01:00 High during evening twilight at ~18:50 High at ~20:40 High at ~20:10 1-
30o S High at ~22:00 Fairly high in the western sky at ~01:50 High during evening twilight at ~18:50 High at ~20:40 High at ~20:10 1-

C/2013 US10 (Catalina): A morning comet visible in very large telescopes
This comet begins the month in Auriga at magnitude 14.1. Look for a 1' coma. It should fade slowly.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility September 3 Visibility September 10 Visibility September 17 Visibility September 24 Visibility October 1 Nights Visible
55o N High at ~02:50 High at ~03:00 High during morning twilight at ~03:40 High at ~23:30 High at ~03:50 1-
40o N High at ~03:50 High at ~04:00 High during morning twilight at ~04:20 High in moonlight at ~04:10 High at ~04:10 1-
Equator Fairly high in the northern sky at ~04:40 Fairly high at ~04:40 Fairly high during morning twilight at ~04:50 Fairly high in moonlight at ~04:40 Fairly high at ~04:30 1-
30o S Not visible Very low in the northern sky during morning twilight at ~05:00 Not visible Very low in the northern sky during morning twilight at ~04:40 Very low in the northern sky during morning twilight at ~04:30 2-2, 5-7, 9-14, 23-

Summary Data for This Month's Telescopic Comets


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

September 1st

September 15th

September 30th

Observations as of (UT)
Mag Diam Mag Diam Mag Diam
C/2016 A8 (LINEAR) Cygnus 11.1 1.1' 11.4 1.0' 11.9 49" 2016 September 1
81P/Wild* Virgo 11.5 2.5' 11.7 2.4' 12.0 2.3' 2016 July 31
C/2013 X1 (PANSTARRS) Hydra 11.7 6.4' 12.1 5.7' 12.5 5.0' 2016 August 26
43P/Wolf-Harrington Cancer 11.8 1.5' 11.9 1.6' 12.1 1.6' 2016 September 1
C/2014 S2 (PANSTARRS) Virgo 11.9 3.2' 12.1 3.1' 12.3 3.0' 2016 July 28
C/2015 TQ209 (LINEAR) Sextans 12.1 26" 12.2 26" 12.4 25" 2016 January 30
9P/Tempel Libra 12.9 2.8' 13.2 2.7' 13.7 2.5' 2016 August 20
237P/LINEAR Libra 13.4 20" 13.5 19" 13.6 18" 2016 September 1
C/2014 W2 (PANSTARRS)* Serpens Caput 13.7 1.6' 13.9 1.5' 14.2 1.4' 2016 September 1
29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann Sagittarius 13.8 38" 13.9 37" 14.0 36" 2016 September 1
53P/Van Biesbroeck Capricornus 13.8 1.0' 14.1 56" 14.4 50" 2016 September 1
226P/Pigott-LINEAR-Kowalski Orion 13.9 43" 13.7 47" 13.5 53" 2016 September 1
C/2013 US10 (Catalina) Auriga 14.1 1.0' 14.2 1.0' 14.3 1.1' 2016 September 1
C/2015 V2 (Johnson) Ursa Major 14.2 1.1' 13.9 1.1' 13.6 1.2' 2016 September 1
144P/Kushida Cancer 14.2 1.0' 14.3 1.0' 14.4 1.1' 2016 August 12
C/2011 KP36 (Spacewatch) Cetus 14.5 44" 14.5 45" 14.5 45" 2016 September 1
56P/Slaughter-Burnham Taurus 15.0 16" 14.9 17" 14.8 18" 2016 September 1
174P/Echeclus Pisces 15.0 22" 15.0 23" 15.0 23" 2016 September 1

*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