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/2013 V5 (Oukaimeden): An evening comet visible in binoculars
This comet begins the month in Monoceros at magnitude 7.6. Look for a 7.5' coma. It should brighten by about 1.5 magnitudes, moving into Hydra by month's end. The best visibility is late in the month as seen from the southern hemisphere.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility August 30 Visibility September 6 Visibility September 13 Visibility September 20 Visibility September 27 Nights Visible
55o N Very low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~03:20 Not visible Not visible Not visible Not visible 1-6
40o N Low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~04:00 Very low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~04:10 Not visible Not visible Not visible 1-11
Equator Fairly high at ~04:50 Fairly high in the eastern sky at ~04:50 Low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~05:00 Not visible Very low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~19:00 1-16, 22-
30o S Fairly high at ~05:00 Fairly high at ~04:50 Fairly high in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~04:50 Very low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~19:00 Low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~19:20 1-

C/2014 E2 (Jacques): An evening comet visible in binoculars
This comet begins the month in Cepheus at magnitude 6.8. Look for a 10' coma. It should fade rapidly, moving into Aquila by month's end.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility August 30 Visibility September 6 Visibility September 13 Visibility September 20 Visibility September 27 Nights Visible
55o N High at ~23:10 Fairly high at ~03:00 High during evening twilight at ~20:30 High at ~20:20 High at ~20:00 1-
40o N High at ~23:10 Fairly high in the western sky at ~03:30 High at ~20:10 High at ~19:50 High at ~19:40 1-
Equator Fairly high at ~23:10 High in moonlight at ~21:00 High at ~20:10 High at ~19:30 High in moonlight at ~19:10 1-
30o S Not visible Low in the northern sky in moonlight at ~21:10 Fairly high at ~20:10 High at ~19:30 High in moonlight at ~19:30 1-

C/2012 K1 (PANSTARRS): A morning comet visible in binoculars
This comet begins the month in Cancer at magnitude 7.8. Look for a 7' coma. It should brighten slowly, moving into Hydra by month's end.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility August 30 Visibility September 6 Visibility September 13 Visibility September 20 Visibility September 27 Nights Visible
55o N Not visible Not visible Not visible Very low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~04:00 Very low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~04:10 2-
40o N Not visible Very low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~04:20 Low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~04:30 Low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~04:20 Low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~04:30 1-
Equator Very low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~05:00 Low 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 in moonlight at ~04:40 Fairly high at ~04:40 1-
30o S Not visible Low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~05:00 Low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~04:50 Fairly high in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~04:30 Fairly high at ~04:20 1-

C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring): An evening comet visible in small telescopes
This comet begins the month in Tucana at magnitude 10.3. Look for a 1.5' coma. It should fade slowly, moving into Scorpius by month's end. The best visibility is mid-month as seen from the southern hemisphere.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility August 30 Visibility September 6 Visibility September 13 Visibility September 20 Visibility September 27 Nights Visible
55o N Not visible Not visible Not visible Not visible Not visible  
40o N Not visible Not visible Not visible Not visible Very low in the southern sky during evening twilight at ~18:50 26-
Equator Low in the southern sky at ~01:30 Low in the southern sky in moonlight at ~21:40 Fairly high in the southern sky at ~19:30 Fairly high at ~19:10 High in moonlight at ~19:10 1-
30o S High at ~01:30 Fairly high in the southern sky at ~04:40 High at ~19:30 High at ~19:20 High in moonlight at ~19:30 1-

C/2012 X1 (LINEAR): A southern hemisphere morning comet visible in a 6-inch (15 cm) telescope
This comet begins the month in Indus at magnitude 10.6. Look for a 4' coma. It should fade by about 0.9 magnitudes by month's end. The best visibility is early in the month as seen from the southern hemisphere.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility August 30 Visibility September 6 Visibility September 13 Visibility September 20 Visibility September 27 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 at ~23:20 Fairly high in moonlight at ~22:40 Fairly high at ~22:10 Fairly high at ~21:40 Fairly high at ~21:10 1-
30o S High at ~23:20 Fairly high in the southern sky at ~04:30 High at ~22:10 High at ~21:40 High at ~21:10 1-

C/2010 S1 (LINEAR): An evening comet visible in very large telescopes
This comet begins the month in Scutum at magnitude 13.7. Look for a 1.5' coma. It should fade slowly, moving into Serpens Cauda by month's end.  FINDER CHART
Latitude Visibility August 30 Visibility September 6 Visibility September 13 Visibility September 20 Visibility September 27 Nights Visible
55o N Fairly high in the southern sky during evening twilight at ~21:20 Fairly high in the southern sky during evening twilight at ~20:20 Fairly high in the southern sky during evening twilight at ~20:30 Fairly high in the southern sky during evening twilight at ~20:10 Fairly high in the southern sky during evening twilight at ~19:50 1-
40o N High at ~21:00 High during evening twilight at ~19:50 High at ~19:50 Fairly high at ~19:40 Fairly high at ~19:40 1-
Equator High at ~21:40 High in moonlight at ~19:10 High at ~19:20 High at ~19:10 High in moonlight at ~19:10 1-
30o S High at ~22:10 High in moonlight at ~19:10 High at ~19:20 High at ~19:20 High in moonlight at ~19:30 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

September 1st

September 15th

September 30th

Observations as of (UT)
Mag Diam Mag Diam Mag Diam
C/2014 E2 (Jacques) Cepheus 6.8 10.0' 8.2 7.0' 9.7 4.6' 2014 September 1
C/2013 V5 (Oukaimeden) Monoceros 7.6 6.0' 5.5 10.5' 6.1 6.4' 2014 August 28
C/2012 K1 (PANSTARRS) Cancer 7.8 4.9' 7.7 5.6' 7.6 6.8' 2014 July 27
C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring) Tucana 10.3 1.5' 10.2 1.5' 10.5 1.2' 2014 September 1
C/2012 X1 (LINEAR) Indus 10.6 4.3' 11.1 3.8' 11.5 3.4' 2014 August 7
C/2010 S1 (LINEAR) Scutum 13.7 1.5' 13.8 1.5' 13.9 1.4' 2014 September 29
29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann Libra 14? 40"? 14? 40"? 14? 40"? 2014 May 29
C/2013 US10 (Catalina) Aquarius 14.1 28" 14.0 29" 13.8 30" 2014 August 28
284P/McNaught Aquarius 14.2 1.0' 14.2 1.1' 14.3 1.0' 2014 August 28
P/2014 L2 (NEOWISE) Pisces 14.2 40" 14.3 40" 14.4 39" 2014 August 29
117P/Helin-Roman-Alu Microscopium 14.2 1.1' 14.4 1.1' 14.6 59" 2014 May 27
C/2011 J2 (LINEAR) Cassiopeia 14.3 1.1' 14.3 1.1' 14.4 1.1' 2014 August 29
17P/Holmes Perseus 14.4 1.0' 14.4 1.1' 14.5 1.1' 2014 August 28
C/2013 UQ4 (Catalina) Bootes 14.8 58" 15.6 49" 16.3 43" 2014 August 29

*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