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Astra's Guide to Comets!

Vagabonds from space visit the inner solar system!

Astra's Star Gate

Here's What's Up!

Here are the comets of interest that are visible:

C/2020 T2 (Palomar) - Discovered by Dmitry A. Duev, an astronomer working on the Zwicky Transient Facility's Twilight Survey at Palomar Observatory on October 7, 2020. Perihelion for this comet is July 11, 2021 it was reported at mag 10.5 and is located in the constellation of Bootis as of June 2021.

C/2021 A1 (Leonard) - Discovered byy G. J. Leonard on January 3, 2021 by at Mount Lemmon Observatory. It will reach perihelion on January 3, 2022. It is still faint (~17.5 mag) as of this posting but it may become a naked eye object as it approaches the Sun.

15P/Finlay (2021) perihelion date is September 28, 2020. This periodic comet was discovered in September 1886. Reported as 12.5 mag in May 2021, this comet is expected to brighten to 10th magnitude in July.

6P/d'Arrest another periodic comet, its next perihelion date is September 17, 2021. Around 17 mag in early June, 6P/d'Arrest is expected to brighten to 10 magnitude in September.

The Minor Planet Center also provides ephemrides that can be imported into your planetarium programs and telescope pointing programs. This includes Astra's favorite open source planetarium program Stellarium.

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Recent Comet Brightness Estimates - reported to the Minor Planet Center at Harvard. Check here to see what comet observations have been made and submitted to the Center. Magnitude estimates are made by the astronomers and are subjective unless otherwise stated.

Links to Great Comet Stuff!

Make A Comet Ephemeris for your location!

Comet Hunters

My Comet Hunting Hero - David Levy's Home Page - Latest Discovery October 2006

The Comet Hunter - Don Machholtz (discovered 11 comets)

Comet Missions and Exploration from Space!

Great Comets that shone during the Age of Information

Comet C/2020 F3 Neowise trajectory plotted by Tom Ruen

Comet Lovejoy (C/2014 Q2)

Comet Lovejoy taken by Alan Dyer

At last, an exciting comet that wasn't overbilled in the media. This comet was the fifth comet discovered by comet hunter Terry Lovejoy. Using CCD camera images taken with a Celestron C-8 telescope, Lovejoy found this comet from Queensland, Australia on August 17, 2014. A long period comet, the perihelion date for Comet Lovejoy was January 30, 2015. Closest approach to Earth was January 7 when it was 43.6 million miles or 70.2 million km away from us. It reached 4th magnitude within the limits for observing with the unaided eye.

The image of C/2014 Q2, Comet Lovejoy was taken by Alan Dyer. This was posted at Alan's site on Flickr. Used by permission, this image is ©2014 Alan Dyer. Check out Alan's site, Amazing Sky for more on astrophotography.

Off-site Information on Comet Q2

Earthsky information on Comet Lovejoy

How To See Comet Lovejoy Tonight - contains finder charts

Damien Peach image of comet ISON November 7, 2013
©2013 Damian Peach - This image was taken on November 7, 2013

Comet C/2012 S1 (ISON)

Comet C/2012 S1 (ISON) was sun grazing comet was discovered on September 21, 2012 by Artyom Novichonok and Vitali Nevski, using a 16-inch telescope that is part of the International Scientific Optical Network (ISON). It was nicknamed the Holiday comet because its perihelion date was November 28, Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. Despite high expectations, this comet broke apart due to its close encounter with the Sun. After a long life of 4.5 billion years, ISON was destroyed at perihelion.

NASA Comet ISON Observing Campaign

Comet ISON comes to Life - John Bortle reports from Sky & Telescope
Comet ISON is Coming - Michael Kelley Blog

Comet 2006P/1 McNaught

The brightest comet of the new millenium so far! C/2006 P1 a.ka. Comet McNaught. Discovered by Robert McNaught of the Siding Spring Observatory in Australia on August 7, 2006. Perihelion was January 12, 2007. Peak magnitude estimate -0.6! This comet will be long remembered for its magnificent tail.

So long, Comet McNaught, it won't be back to visit the inner solar system again.

Comet 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 3

In 1995, Comet 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 3 split into "mini-comets" flying single file through space, much like Shoemaker/Levy9 that crashed into Jupiter. Closest approach to Earth: 5 million miles on May 15, 2006.

Comet Hale-Bopp

Old comets never die, they merely fade....

OR crash into planets....OR break up into pieces....OR hit the sun...Or are flung out of the solar system never to return

Comet Hyakutake Pages

False color image of comet Hyakutake courtesy of the WIYN Consortium, Inc.
This false-color image of Hyakutake was made on the WIYN Telescope and provided courtesy of the WIYN Consortium, Inc.

D/1993 F2 The Comet that collided with Jupiter! Links to info on Shoemaker-Levy9

And when they fade, they really fade...here's a Halley Page:

Views of the Solar System Halley Page
Well, 1986 was a bit before the age of information, wasn't it???

What's the fuss?

- Comet Elenin will not destory the Earth - Astro Bob

Last update: June 9, 2021