Here you will find images, photos and finder charts of past, present and future comets, plus other observations of interest.
This page was last updated on 06-Apr-2017
2017 COMET OBSERVING PLANNER excel file for both northern and
Listen in to Comet Watch on Astronomy FM http://astronomy.fm/
Alan Hale's autobiography “The Comet Man,” is now available at http://www.earthriseinstitute.org/thecometman.html
David Sergeant's new book "Weird Astronomical
Theories of the Solar System and Beyond"
is now available at http://www.springer.com/br/book/9783319252933
A website for comet charts and information:
A must view website for comet enthusiasts is Seiichi Yoshida's Weekly comet information http://www.aerith.net/comet/weekly/current.html
Current Brightness of Present/Future comets from 35S latitude on 2017 April 6
Click on individual comet for information and finder charts. **NIGHT MODE charts available*** See below for latest images.
|C/2015 ER61 PANSTARRS||
6th magnitude and brightening. IN OUTBURST on April 4!
May peak at magnitude 5 in May 2017.
A dynamically old object arriving at perihelion on May 9 at 1.04AU.
|C/2017 E4 Lovejoy||
New Discovery which brightened rapidly!
6th magnitude and steady? Northern hemisphere only.
May peak at magnitude 6 for northerners in April 2017.
7th magnitude and brightening. Northern hemisphere only.
May peak at magnitude 5 in April 2017 but poorly situated for southerners.
Potential for bright naked eye visibility during a Major Outburst !!
|C/2015 V2 Johnson||
9th magnitude and brightening. Low Northern sky predawn.
May peak at magnitude 6-7 in June 2017.
A dynamically new object arriving at perihelion on June 12 at 1.63AU.
9th magnitude and fading. Eastern morning sky.
Peaked at magnitude 6 in early March 20107
|C/2017 E1 Borisov||
11th magnitude and brightening. Eastern morning sky.
May peak at magnitude 10 in April 2017.
11th magnitude and steady. Eastern morning sky.
Fragment discovered 73p-bt
13th magnitude and fading. Northern midnight sky
Peaked at magnitude 6.5 between Dec 2016 to Feb 2017.
Very close passage to earth on 2016 February 11 at 0.084AU. 12.5 million kms
|C/2016 U1 NEOWISE||
Fainter than magnitude 15 on Feb 24.
Survived its perihelion passage on 2017 January 14 at 0.32AU but faded out rapidly.
Peaked at naked eye magnitude 4, 7 orders of magnitude brighter than expected!
Passed Earth at 13.9 lunar distances on 2016 March 21.
|C/2013 X1 PANSTARRS||
Peaked at magnitude 6.5 in mid June 2016, well situated for southerners
|C/2013 US10 Catalina||
Peaked at magnitude 6 between November 2015 to January 2016
C/2015 ER61 PANSTARRS in outburst on April 4 - 2 orders of magnitude brighter.
Above: Pre-outburst, comet appeared magnitude 8.3 through 25x100mm binoculars.
Below: Post-outburst, comet appeared magnitude 6.2 through 8x40mm binoculars.
Terry Lovejoy discovers his 6th comet!
Now 6th magnitude as of April 5, sporting an unusual elongated coma with a ion tail.
New comet C/2017 E4 Lovejoy was discovered on 2017 March 10.
Preliminary orbit has perihelion arrival on 2017 April 23 at 0.49AU from the Sun.
Comet Lovejoy has brightened rapidly from magnitude 12 on 2017 March 18 to to magnitude 9.0 on March 25.8UT
Compare photos below. The comet could reach 5th magnitude at perihelion, but is at risk of disintegrating.
below comet Lovejoy on March 18
Above: 2015 ER61 PANSTARRS and 73P Schwassmann-Wachmann on 2017 March 18 (fragment too close to resolve)
Above: New comet C/2017 E1 Borisov discovered on 2017 March 1.
preliminary designation gb00099 on the Possible Comet Confirmation Page.
This confirmation image was taken on 2017 March 2.
Approximate magnitude 15. Discovered by Russian amateur astronomer G. Borisov.
Preliminary orbit has perihelion arrival on 2017 April 10 at 0.90AU from the Sun. It is expected to brighten to about 10th magnitude.
Below - Comet C/2016 U1 NEOWISE fade out. Fainter than magnitude 15 in this image, expected to have appeared magnitude 12.
Image on 2017 Feb 24 at 10:30UT. Celestron C11 + Canon 60Da camera, 5 minutes of total exposure.Below
Below: 41P TGK and 45P HMP on 2017 Feb 24.
Below: 45P Honda-Mrkos-Padjusakova on 2017 Feb 21
showing a broad dust tail with a sharp edge.
Below: 41P Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresak on 2017 Feb 17.
This comet has potential for major outbursts that could bring it within naked eye visibility, thus should be closely monitored.
Click on comet link for more information.
Below 45P Honda-Mrkos-Padjusakova on 2016 Dec 22. 10x30
sec exposures, Canon 60Da + 200mm lens.
BRIGHTER COMETS EXPECTED IN 2017 (UPDATED 2016 DEC 6)
2017 will be a pretty exciting year for the comet observer. Here's a wrap up of what's in store.
One of the brighter short period comets, 45P arrived at perihelion (0.53AU from the Sun) at the end of last year.
During January, it is too close to the Sun for observation.
During February, it emerges from solar conjunction in the morning sky, but will be better situated for those in the north.
It is due for an exceptionally close approach to the Earth on 2017 Feb 11, when it will be 0.08AU away and potentially as bright as 6th magnitude.
Initially a morning object, it will move rapidly into evening skies by late February, but fade rapidly.
Discovered by Mechain in 1786, this is one of the shortest period comets (period of 3.3 years) and the most observed ( 63rd apparition)
The comet is only visible to northerners pre-perihelion in the evening sky.
It arrives at Perihelion on 2017 March 10 at 0.33AU and is closest to Earth on March 12 at 0.65AU.
Peaking at 3rd magnitude, unfortunately it will be too close to the Sun for observation!
However, it will make an appearance for southerners in late March morning skies, fading from magnitude 6.
This is the most interesting comet of the year. Known for its repeat outbursting, comet 41P will be having an excellent apparition.
It passes 0.14AU from Earth in early April, prior to its perihelion passage on April 13th at 1.04AU.
It will be spending a long time near the Earth's vicinity, within 0.2AU between March 10 to May 9
The comet is expected to peak at 5th magnitude, when not at outburst!
In 1973, the comet had a mega-outburst of 10 orders of magnitude. Imagine this at closest approach!
Very sadly for southerners, the comet is too far north for viewing, between late March and late April. By then, it may have faded to magnitude 6 or 7.
The outbusts are usually of short duration but what will be certain is that there will be a lot of attention given to 41P this year.
Arrives at perihelion on 2017 Oct 27 at 0.12AU. This comet will peak at magnitude 2, but once again too close to the Sun!
Southerners can see it brighten on its way to perihelion from early to mid October when the then 8th magnitude comet is lost in evening twilight.
C/2015 ER61 PANSTARRS
Discovered as an asteroid but later shown to display cometary activity, this comet arrives at perihelion on 2017 May 9 when it will be 1.04AU from the
Sun. It is not very well placed from Earth's perspective, closest at 1.17AU on April 20 but is intrinsically bright.
This is a returning long period object, so has the potential to become brighter than expected, peaking at magnitude 6 or 7 during May
and well situated for southerners in the morning sky.
C/2015 V2 Johnson
Is a dynamically new comet entering the solar system. It will probably disappoint and fail to reach its expected peak of magnitude 5-6.
It is closest to the Earth at 0.81AU on June 5, prior to its perihelion arrival on June 12 at 1.63AU.
It will be well situated for viewing in evening skies during June, trekking southwards.
My tip is that it will peak at 7th magnitude, but let's hope for a better outcome.
THE DOUBLE COMET SHOW OF MARCH 2013
Was one of the highlights on the comet observing calendar. 2 comets C/2011 L4 PANSTARRS and C/2012 F6 Lemmon
were simultaneouslt visible to the unaided eye during the evenings around early March 2013
Comet C/2011 L4
PANSTARRS page updated March 9 (final)
Comet C/2012 F6 Lemmon page updated March 16 9 (final)
What a privilege it is to observe a great comet. My tally is 4 since I began observing comets in 1986.
Click on links for additional photos and information.
C/1996 B2 Hyakutake
(Great comet of 1996)
C/1995 O1 Hale-Bopp (Great comet of 1997)
C/2006 P1 McNaught (Great comet of 2007)
C/2011 W3 Lovejoy (Great comet of 2011)
Also visit my alternate website at
which consists of additional photos and observations of comets personally witnessed since 1996.
A history of my comet observations since 1986 can be downloaded here
Send comments to Michael Mattiazzo : mmatti
at westnet dot com dot au