Here you will find information, finder charts and images of Comets - past, present and future, plus other observations of interest.
This page was last updated on 05-Jan-2021
NEW ** 2021 comet planner uploaded.
Members of the general public should read this important Guide to Observing Comets
This website will be updated less frequently.
Please follow my "Southern Comets Homepage" on Facebook where I post regular images and observations of comets.
You do not need to be a facebook subscriber
Other recommended sources
Gideon van Buitenen's website http://astro.vanbuitenen.nl/comets
Weekly comet information by Seiichi Yoshida http://www.aerith.net/comet/weekly/current.html
Current Brightness of Present/Future comets from 35S latitude on 2021 January 5
Click on individual comet for more information including FINDER CHARTS.
Latest up to date magnitude estimates can be found at the COBS website https://cobs.si
|C/2020 S3 Erasmus||
6th magnitude and fading. In Solar Conjunction. Reached magnitude 4 in Dec 2020.
Was visible in SOHO LASCO C3 camera between December 18 (entering the field at 2o’clock position) until January 2 (departing at the 11o’clock position). https://soho.nascom.nasa.gov/data/Theater/
|C/2020 M3 ATLAS||
10th magnitude and fading. Low Northern evening sky.
Halley type comet with orbital period of 165yrs. Large faint coma.
Peaked at magnitude 7.5 in early Nov 2020.
10th magnitude and fading. North-Western evening sky.
First apparition where visual observations have been possible. Refer below
10th magnitude and steady. North-Western evening sky.
May reach magnitude 10 in Jan 2021.
Fragmenting comet - 2 additional faint components identified
11th magnitude and fading. Western evening sky
Peaked at magnitude 8.5 in late Sep 2020
11th magnitude and steady. Evening sky.
May reach magnitude 11 in late Dec 2020.
|C/2019 N1 ATLAS||
12th magnitude and brightening. Eastern morning sky.
May reach magnitude 11 in Jan 2021.
|C/2020 R4 ATLAS||
12th magnitude and brightening. Low western evening sky.
Could reach magnitude 8 in April 2021
|29P Schwassmann-Wachmann||12th magnitude outbursts. North-Western evening sky|
|C/2017 K2 PANSTARRS||
Discovered on 2017 May 21 at a distance of 16 AU, almost a record for a comet discovery.
Potential Unaided Eye target in 2022.
Currently at magnitude 14, implies a very large comet (absolute magnitude of 1)
Perihelion occurs in December 2022 at 1.8AU. It will be distant from the Earth and Sun.
May peak at magnitude 5 in December 2022 for observers in the southern hemisphere.
|C/2020 F3 NEOWISE||
"Fine comet" Peaked at magnitude 1 in early July 2020 for northerners.
|C/2019 U6 Lemmon||
Peaked at magnitude 6.5 in late June 2020
|C/2017 T2 PANSTARRS||
13th magnitude and fading. Solar conjunction
Peaked at magnitude 8 in May 2020.
|C/2019 Y4 ATLAS||
Hopes for an Unaided Eye comet were dashed when it disintegrated on its way to perihelion.
Peaked at magnitude 8 in March 2020
|C/2020 F8 SWAN||
Peaked at magnitude 5.0 in early May 2020 before disintegrating at perihelion in late May.
Click HERE for details on how I discovered this comet
|C/2020 P1 NEOWISE||
Peaked at magnitude 8.5 in mid-Oct 2020 but poorly situated.
Disintegrated at perihelion.
C/2020 S3 Erasmus
C/2020 M3 ATLAS
closest to Earth on 2020 Oct 24 at 0.48AU.
closest to the Sun on 2020 Nov 17 at 1.33AU
maximum magnitude 10 in November 2020
period 6.4 years.
This is the first apparition of this periodic comet where visual observations have been possible.
This is due to an encounter with Jupiter in 2018 which reduced the comets perihelion distance as well as favourable circumstances.
The comet was possibly in outburst as it displays a coma off centre, similar to 29p appearance after an outburst.
above photo was taken on 2020 October 18 at 11:20UT. My visual estimate was magnitude 11.5 with a 3' coma using a 20cm reflector.
During November, it is situated in Aquarius, trekking towards Pisces, fading from magnitude 10.
During December, it is situated in the evening sky in Pisces, trekking slowly north-eastwards, fading from magnitude 11.
First return of a new periodic comet.
C/2020 P1 NEOWISE
Not to be confused with C/2020 F3 NEOWISE,
C/2020 P1 was discovered on 2020 August 2nd by the Near Earth Object Widefield Infrared Survey Explorer
This object had a close encounter with the Sun on October 20th , at a distance of 0.35AU
The comet appeared intrinsically quite faint and was not expected to survive perihelion.
As of early October, the comet had brightened to magnitude 9, but was a very difficult object low in the evening sky.
I was able to photograph it, but not get a visual observation. The comet was quite condensed but small, with no tail.
It seems to have peaked at magnitude 8.5 and barely survived perihelion, when visible in STEREO HI1A.
It was recovered by Michael Jager on October 26 at magnitude 11.5
OTHER COMETS IN 2020
C/2019 Y1 ATLAS (not to be confused with Y4 ATLAS)
was discovered on 2019 December 16 by the ATLAS survey.
Astrometry indicated that this comet belongs to the Liller family of comets, arising from a breakup of a larger object about 3000+ years ago
(linkage identified by Reinder Bouma)
C/1988 A1 Liller, presumably the primary component, reached 5th magnitude in May 1988.
C/1996 Q1 Tabur also reached 5th magnitude in October 1996.
C/2015 F3 SWAN, reached 9th magnitude in April 2015.
C/2019 Y1 ATLAS reached 7th magnitude when at its brightest in March 2020, with viewing restricted to northern hemisphere observers,
Not seen since 1996, and missed at 2 returns, this comet underwent an outburst and was discovered in SWAN data by Hua Su, then recovered by me on 2020 April 7.
The comet was +2.4 days behind prediction. Perihelion date was on May 27at 1.37AU, followed by an Earth approach on June 26 at 2.0AU.
The comet peaked at magnitude 10 in May 2020.
C/2019 N1 ATLAS
may appear 10th magnitude during December 2020, when well situated in south-eastern morning sky.
It has an orbital period of > 1 million years and perihelion distance of 1.70AU on December 1.
has an interesting history, fragmenting into 5 components in 1994 (A to E).
I observed components A and D at its 1999 return. A further fragment H was identified in 2015.
What more does this comet have in store for us at its next return in 2020?, when it will be 0.80AU from the Sun on December 15.
The primary component A may reach 10th magnitude.
C/2020 A2 Iwamoto
Was a new amateur comet discovered on 2020 January 8, which peaked at magnitude 10 in February 2020.
Images above were taken on 2020 February 6 using I telescope Sierra Nevada.
Total Solar Eclipse photos from Casper Wyoming on 2017 August 21.
The Horsehead and Flame nebulae in Orion.
details: Celestron C11 RASA f/2.2 + QHY367m coldmos. 60x30second exposures, processed in Maxim DL.
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 simultaneously visible to the unaided eye during the evenings of early March 2013
Comet C/2011 L4
Comet C/2012 F6 Lemmon page
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
Further comet information can be found at:
Comet Watch Facebook group
A website for comet charts and information:
Send comments to Michael Mattiazzo : mmatti at westnet dot com dot au