Welcome to my Southern Comets website.

Here you will find information, photos and finder charts of Comets - past, present and future, plus other observations of interest.

This page was last updated on 17-Feb-2018

*** 2018 COMET OBSERVING PLANNER *** excel file for both northern and southern observers
(for comets predicted to be brighter than magnitude 15).
alternatively a PDF version can be downloaded here

With 2017 passing by relatively quietly for comet activity, 2018 on the other hand will be a very busy year for the comet observer.
At least 1 comet should reach naked eye visibility in December 2018, 46P Wirtanen,
and a host of other objects, 15 in total, may appear brighter than magnitude 12.
No doubt there will be additions to the list as new comets are discovered throughout 2018.
The list of comets are arranged in chronological order of peak brightness (Jan 18 to Dec 18).

Further comet information can be found at:
Comet Watch on Astronomy FM http://astronomy.fm/  (join the comet watch Facebook group)

David Sergeant's book "Weird Comets and Asteroids" is now available for purchase at Springer or Amazon.
This book concentrates on some of the odd aspects of comets and asteroids, such as outbursts and schisms,
and how asteroids can temporally act as comets are discussed.

Skyhound. A good website for comet charts and information: http://cometchasing.skyhound.com/

Weekly comet information by Seiichi Yoshida http://www.aerith.net/comet/weekly/current.html
In my opinion the best website for comet information

Current Brightness of Present/Future comets from 35S latitude on 2018 February 18
Click on individual comet for information and finder charts (if available).
NIGHT MODE charts are available for the brighter comets, suitable for smart phone use at the observing field.
See below for latest images.

10th magnitude and steady. Northwestern evening sky.
May peak at magnitude 10 in January 2018.
Frequent volatile outbursts of small amplitude. Comet appears "Blue" due to high CO+ content.
C/2017 T1 Heinze
9th magnitude and fading? Northern hemisphere only. Returns mid-March at magnitude 11.
Was closest to Earth on Jan 4 at 0.22AU. Disintegration risk at perihelion in February.
185P Petriew
11th magnitude and steady. Very low Western evening sky.
62P Tsuchinshan 12th magnitude and fading. North Eastern morning sky
12th magnitude and brightening. Northern hemisphere only.
13th magnitude and brightening. Northern hemisphere only.
C/2015 V2 Johnson
13th magnitude and fading. South Western Evening sky
Peaked at magnitude 7.5 in June 2017.
C/2017 K6 Jacques 13th magnitude and steady. Evening sky.
24P Schaumasse 13th magnitude and fading. Low North Eastern morning sky.
C/2017 O1 ASASSN
14th magnitude and fading. Northern hemisphere only.
Was expected to peak at magnitude 8 in October 2017 but appeared fainter.
174P Echeclus
14th magnitude and fading. North Western Evening sky
Outburst on December 7 to magnitude 13. Comet is currently 6.8AU from the Earth!
14th magnitude and steady. Low Western evening sky.
Was d
iscovered on 2017 May 21 at a whopping distance of 16 AU,
nearly a record for a comet discovery.
Now shining at magnitude 19, implies a very large comet (absolute magnitude of 1)
Perihelion at 1.8AU occurs in December 2022, unfortunately when the comet is near conjunction. It will be distant from the Earth and Sun, thus not likely to become brighter than magnitude 5.
The comet is also dynamically new (first approach to the Sun) and may be experiencing abnormally high activity at the moment.
Potentially this comet may fizzle and fail to reach naked eye visibility.
However it will be a favourable southern comet, situated deep in southern evening skies in 2022.

Comet 185P Petriew is now visible low in the western evening sky after sunset.

Total Solar Eclipse photos from Casper Wyoming on 2017 August 21.

C/2017 T1 Heinze on 2017 Dec 26.
Note the rapid movement in this 4 minute exposure. The dust tail shows curvature.
Comet was 0.35AU from the Earth at the time and will close to 0.22AU on 2018 January 4.

174P Echeclus outburst.

Comet C/2017 O1 ASASSN.
Closest to Sun on 2017 October 14 at 1.50AU
Closest to Earth on 2017 October 18 at 0.72AU
Maximum magnitude 9 in October 2017
On 2017 July 19.32 UT, K. Stanek, Ohio State University, reported the discovery of a comet in the course of the "All-Sky Automated Survey for Supernovae" (ASASSN) program, from images taken with the 14-cm "Cassius" survey telescope at Cerro Tololo in Chile.


The comet appeared magnitude 15.
Soon after this discovery was posted on the possible comet confirmation page PCCP, reports of a large coma were noted.
I made a visual observation on 2017 July 24.83 using 25x100mm binoculars, where the comet appeared at magnitude 10.5 with a very large diffuse coma 5' wide.
It is very unusual in this day and age to see a comet at discovery, so bright. The comet was located in Cetus, but much better situated for southern observers.
The comet likely had undergone a recent outburst.


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 PANSTARRS page
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 http://www.yp-connect.net/~mmatti/
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