Director: Nick James
Feb 19 Worachate Boonplod reports a Kreutz group comet in real time C3 images Feb 22 Zhijian Xu reports a Kreutz group comet in real time C3 images Feb 24 Worachate Boonplod reports a Meyer group comet in real time C2 images Feb 25 Szymon Liwo reports a Kreutz group comet in real time C3 images Feb 26 We regret to report the death of Mike Hendrie, Director of the comet section from 1977 to 1987 Feb 27 Discovery of 2017 U6 = 2011 WG113 (P/PanSTARRS) reported Mar 02 Salil Mulye and Worachate Boonplod report a Kreutz group comet in real time C3 images Mar 04 Discovery of A/2017 U7 reported Mar 04 Discovery of A/2018 C2 reported Mar 09 Worachate Boonplod reports a Meyer group comet in real time C2 images Mar 12 Szymon Liwo reports a Kreutz group comet in real time C2 images Mar 13 Worachate Boonplod reports a Kreutz group comet in real time C3 images Mar 14 Worachate Boonplod reports a Kreutz group comet in real time C3 images Mar 14 Worachate Boonplod reports a Kreutz group comet in real time C3 images Mar 16 Discovery of 2018 E1 (ATLAS) reported Mar 16 Discovery of 2018 E2 (Barros) reported Mar 17 Update
If there have been no recent updates try The German comet group page or Seiichi Yoshida's page for information or the Liga Iberoamericana de Astronomia for observations.
Comet Magnitude Trend Observable When visible Last visual observation PanSTARRS (2016 M1) 10.5 bright 55 N to 35 S early morning 2018 February PanSTARRS (2016 R2) 11 steady 80 N to 30 S evening 2018 March Heinze (2017 T1) 11 fade Poor elongation 2018 February 185P/Petriew 12 fade 60 N to 30 S early evening 2018 March PanSTARRS (2016 N6) 12 bright 80 N to 15 N all night 2018 March 62P/Tsuchinshan 12.5 fade 70 N to 60 S morning 2018 January 240P/NEAT 13 ? steady 40 N to 35 S early evening Not yet observed 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 13 ? varies Conjunction 2017 October PanSTARRS (2015 O1) 13 steady 80 N to 20 S morning 2018 March ASASSN (2017 O1) 13 fade 80 N to 15 N all night 2018 January Johnson (2015 V2) 13.5 fade Poor elongation 2017 SeptemberThe observable region is an approximate indication of the latitude at which the comet may be seen. Under good conditions comets may be visible outside this range. The period when visible is for the UK if the comet is visible from the UK, otherwise for 40 S or the Equator as appropriate. The last visual observation is as received by the Section, details are often updated on the basis of observations published elsewhere. Details are normally fully updated at the beginning of each month, but may be updated more frequently for comets brighter than 10th magnitude; the date of the most recent partial update, which may apply to only one object, is given. Beginners will often find comets fainter than about 7th magnitude difficult to locate - see below for information on positions and finder charts.
Light curves of comets brighter than 10th magnitude or predicted to become that bright (aperture corrected for potential naked eye comets) [click on thumbnail to get the full scale image, updated on 2018 March 1]. The dotted lines represent 99% confidence limits. 2016 M1.
Comet magnitude parameters [ updated 2018 March 1].
Longer period ephemerides are given here for planning purposes for comets that may reach naked eye brightness. All are for the UK. The ephemerides give B1950 and J2000 positions. Modern star charts use J2000, but older atlases will use B1950. The predicted magnitudes are extremely uncertain.
Planning aids and information for forthcoming comets
The MPC also has a list of the last observation for all comets. Electronic observers should try and observe any comets that have not recently been observed according to the CBAT but which are expected to be within range of their equipment. Negative observations are also useful. In addition, the MPC has orbital elements for unusual asteroids, many of which have cometary orbits.
Download Richard Fleet's GraphDark software for graphically displaying comet (and other object) visibility. Latest version is 2.05, 2007 May.
Download William Schwittek's CometWin software for generating comet ephemerides and visibility diagrams. [Updated 2002 March 5]
Download Solex, N-body solar system dynamics software.
Visual and visual equivalent magnitude observations should be sent to me at <jds [at] ast.com.ac.uk> in simple text format. Visual observers can use the BAA visual report form to log observations. To avoid the use of multiple formats the ICQ format , which uses special keys to code observation particulars, is now standardised as the one to use for submission and archiving of observations. The ICQ have not updated their observation keys since 2010, so these additional keys are suggested for use when submitting observations to the BAA (updated 2017 January 4). Crni Vhr Observatory has launched the Comet Observation Database which allows entry of observations in ICQ format, and plots of light curves. Visual observations entered using this system should be emailed to me at the end of the month. Observations are usually analysed and sent to TA as soon as possible after the end of the month; any late observations will be used in subsequent analyses. Observations will continue to be published by Guy Hurst in The Astronomer magazine in TA format. There is also a visual drawing form. The German comet group also has a computer program that will correctly format observations for the ICQ [2009 December].
Images should be sent to Denis Buczynski.
Regular contributors include James Abbott, Jose Aguiar, Alexander Amorim, Nicolas Biver, Denis Buczynski, Paul Camilleri, Matyas Csukas, Roger Dymock, John Fletcher, Marco Goiato, Juan Gonzalez, Bjorn Granslo, Kevin Hills, Nick James, Werner Hasubick, Heinz Kerner, Carlos Labordena, Rolando Ligustri, Michael Mattiazzo, Maik Mayer, Antonio Milani, Martin Mobberley, Jose Navarro Pina, Gabriel Oksa, Mieczyslaw Paradowski, Stuart Rae, Walter Robledo, Tony Scarmato, Willian Souza, David Strange Johan Warrell and Seiichi Yoshida, several of whom contribute observations from their colleagues.
Warning I receive a large number of emails containing viruses or other junk. Please try and make clear that your message is legitimate, otherwise it may be deleted without being read. It is advisable to use your own name, rather than an alias, in the 'from' field and use an obvious, recent subject.
Many thanks to those that regularly access this page for your interest. If you have any comments, suggestions for improvement or find any problems, please email the visual co-ordinator, Jon Shanklin, at j.shanklin @ bas.ac.uk. If you need to phone me, my home number is +44 (0)1223 571250 or my BAS number is +44 (0)1223 221482. Snail mail will reach me at the British Antarctic Survey, Madingley Road, CAMBRIDGE CB3 0ET, England. For information about my work with BAS see my web page at BAS.