New Professor Comet Report - April/May 2017


Comet 41P/Tuttle near spiral galaxy NGC 3198 on 14 March 2017 (Courtesy: Chris Schur)


Welcome to the Comet Report which is a monthly or seasonal article on the observations of comets by the amateur astronomy community and comet hunters from around the world! This article is dedicated to the latest reports of available comets for observations, current state of those comets, future predictions, & projections for observations in comet astronomy!

                                                                                   – Justin McCollum

New Updates on the Professor Comet Reports!

The new report is an update for the Spring Skies 2017 for April & May! New information and the latest on Comets 41P & C/2015 V2 Johnson along with another distinguishing comet for this early half of 2017: C/2017 E4 (Lovejoy) which was discovered by renown Australian comet hunter Terry Lovejoy on 9 March this year at a visual magnitude of 15.0. This comet is now being reported at visual magnitudes as high as 5.9 with the majority of the sighting giving a statistically average range of 6.0 – 7.0. Lovejoy has already passed it’s perigee passage around the same period as 41P with coma diameter of only 4 – 8 arcminutes; a significantly smaller size to that of the other two major comets! The comet is currently moving through the regions of Andromeda and Triangulum within only a few degrees of M31 & M33. Download the report for further details!

2017 Comet Report: Understanding Comets and the Prospects for this year!

This is a new version of the comet report and it focuses on the following concepts:

*Comets: What are they?

*Where do they come from?

*Understanding the Stucture & Nature of Comets.

*Knowing how to find them and analyze Comets.

*How to predict Comets and their prospects.

*Current Comets Available for Observations (Northern Hemisphere Astronomers).

*Prospects for the remaining year.

Earlier in the year we had the appearance of comet 45p/Honda – Mrkos – Pajdusakova which was the darling comet of the Late Winter months of 2017 visible in the early morning skies of the summer constellations (Capricornus, Aquarius, & Serpens) starting to rise from the daytime glare of the Sun! The comet has progressed westward towards the constellations of the Spring Skies (Hercules, Corona Borealis, Bootes, Coma Berenices, & Leo). 45P is now moving in a southerly path through the central regions of Leo and then southeastwards through the months of May & June. The comet once reaching a visual stellar magnitude of 6.39 with coma diameter of 60 arcminutes (two full Moons) has now faded to nearly 15th Magnitude. The other two major comets are now 41P/Tuttle – Giacobini – Kresak & C/2015 V2 (Johnson). 41P is currently a ‘circumpolar constellation’ moving westward or clockwise around the North Celestial Pole moving from Ursa Major (the region of the ‘Big Dipper’) to Draco! The comet has reached a maximum visual magnitude of 6.0 will below it’s predicted range of 5 – 5.5 with has been reduced to 5.5 – 6. It is in Draco where the comet approached the passage of perigee (time of closest distance to Earth), maximum visual brightness, and passage of perihelion (time of closet distance to the Sun) in a two – week period (31 March – 14 April). The comet is reported at reasonably bright magnitudes above 6.5 and will remain visible in the Spring and early Summer skies through the month of June with a coma diameter between averaging between 15 – 35 arcminutes at the low and 60 – 90 arcminutes at the high! The two different ranges may reflect the diameter ranges for the inner and outer coma’s respectfully! Finally the next comet is C/2015 V2 with resides in the NW region of Hercules starting from 19 February & ending on 25 April in which it moves along the Western edge of Hercules and through the Eastern region of Bootes to Virgo from May into Late June. Expect the comet to reach perihelion and perigee in a similar two week period with a projected maximum brightness of 6.5 during the time between the two events

To get continuous catchup on the major comets for 2017 click on the following links from skylive!

Comet 45P/Honda – Mrkos – Pajdusakova:

Comet 41P/Tuttle – Giacobini – Kresak:

Comet C/2015 V2 (Johnson):

Comet C/2017 E4 (Lovejoy):

Professor Comet
2017 HAS Program Director
Justin McCollum

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