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 19-Aug-2018

Latest Southern comet News August-September 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 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 August 20
Click on individual comet for more information (if available)

21P Giacobini-Zinner
8th magnitude and brightening. Northern hemisphere only.
Visible in early September when peaking at magnitude 7.
9th magnitude and fading. South-Western evening sky.
In solar conjunction.
Outbursts occurred on July 1 and July 14 (where it reached magnitude 7 at best).
Was not observable from the southern hemisphere.
Observable in STEREO A images at magnitude 9 during August 1 to 14.
C/2017 T3 Atlas
10th magnitude and fading. Very low south-western evening sky
NEW COMET! (read latest news below)
10th magnitude and fading. Evening sky. Peaked at magnitude 8 in late July 2018.
12th magnitude and steady. Northern sky only. Peaked at magnitude 10 in January 2018.
Frequent volatile outbursts of small amplitude. Comet appears "Blue" due to high CO+ content.
29P Schwassmann-Wachmann 12th magnitude outbursts. Eastern morning sky.
12th magnitude and steady. In solar conjunction.
48P Johnson 12th magnitude and steady. Eastern evening sky
38P Stephan-Oterma
13th magnitude and brightening. Eastern morning sky
May reach magnitude 9 in November 2018
37P Forbes 13th magnitude and fading. Eastern midnight sky
66p du Toit 13th magnitude and fading. Eastern midnight sky.
C/2015 O1 PANSTARRS 13th magnitude and steady. Northern hemisphere only.
64P Swift-Gehrels
13th magnitude and brightening (outburst on August 14). Eastern midnight sky
May reach magnitude 11 in November 2018
364P PANSTARRS 14th magnitude and fading. Eastern morning sky.
46P Wirtanen
16th magnitude and brightening. Eastern midnight sky
May reach Naked Eye visibility Magnitude 3 in December 2018
C/2017 T1 Heinze
Disintegrated at perihelion. 
Was closest to Earth on Jan 4 at 0.22AU.
C/2015 V2 Johnson
Peaked at magnitude 7.5 in June 2017.
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 17, 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 may be dynamically new (first approach to the Sun) and may be experiencing abnormally high activity currently. 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.

Finder Charts:

C/2016 M1 PANSTARRS charts for Aug-Oct 2018 (magnitude 9 to 10)

21P Giacobini-Zinner finder charts for September 2018 (magnitude 7) and October 2018 (magnitude 8 to 9)

New Comet C/2018 N1 NEOWISE charts
Aug 1 to 31 (track from 8pm. Magnitude 8 to 11)

Latest News:
New comet C/2018 N1 NEOWISE was discovered by the infrared NEOWISE spacecraft on July 2, estimated at about magnitude 16 with 1.5' coma
I visually observed the comet on 2018 July 9.82 UT m1= 11.2:, Dia=5, DC=2...25x100mm B [Michael Mattiazzo, Swan Hill, Vic, Australia]
[First visual observation. Very diffuse coma that enhances slightly using a Swan band filter]
The comet brightened rapidly and reached magnitude 8 in late July as it sped past Earth at 0.30AU on July 27.
It is in a retrograde orbit, moving in a direction opposite the planets.
Perihelion occurred a few days later on August 1, at 1.30AU, hence an exceptionally favourable apparition.
Southern hemisphere observers were favoured as the comet was well situated in evening skies, rapidly traversing through the constellations of
Cetus, Aquarius, Sculptor, Pisces Austrinus, Microscopium, Sagittarius, Scorpius/Ophiuchus and Libra during July and August.

Latest Images:

Below C/2018 N1 NEOWISE (lower left) on 2018 August 6. Rho Oph cloud complex at centre. Antares at lower right. Globular cluster M4 at upper right.

Comet NEOWISE at top with planetary nebula NGC 246 in Cetus below.

C/2017 S3 PANSTARRS in outburst. July 2 image. Comet may not survive perihelion in August.

Comet 364P PANSTARRS (right) rendezvous with Star clusters M46.M47 in Puppis.

C/2017 T3 ATLAS. 2018 July 9 at 20:10UT.
Large aperture photometric V mag = 9.8
Comet appears weaker than previously. Not a good sign as it it still approaching perihelion (July 19) and should be brightening.
Could be a disintegration risk.

Comet C/2017 T3 ATLAS recovered post solar conjunction.
2018 June 20 at 20:22UT.
Approximate large aperture photometric V magnitude = 9.5
Solar elongation = 21 degrees.
Altitude = 6 degrees.

Comet 66p du Toit.

66p du Toit and the Grus galaxy chain (IC1459).
2018 May 16 at 18UT.
I observed the comet visually at approximately magnitude 11.0 through 25x100mm binoculars. The 5' coma was very diffuse.

Below: C/2016 R2 PANSTARRS.
Peaked at magnitude 10 in January 2018.
It displayed frequent volatile outbursts of small amplitude. Comet appears "Blue" due to high CO+ content.


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


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