Comet Section        

 
 

September 6, 2021 – ALPO Comet News for September 2021

Summary

While we are still waiting for the next “Big One” or even the next “Bright Enough to be Seen in my Binoculars” comet, September sees quite a few comets bubbling around magnitude 10 to 11. 8P/Tuttle may get as bright as magnitude 8.5 though it is solely a southern hemisphere object. As many as 5 comets, 4P/Faye, 6P/d’Arrest, 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, C/2019 L3 (PANSTARRS), and C/2020 T2 (PANSTARRS), could brighten into the magnitude 10 to 11 range.

C/2021 A1 (Leonard) still has the potential to be an interesting object this December. Recent observations suggest it may be brightening at a fast rate, so imagers and large aperture visual observers are encouraged to observe it this month as it may brighten to 12-13th magnitude by the end of the month.

Comets Section News

During August, the ALPO Comets Section received 48 images and/or sketches from Dan Bartlett, Michel Deconinck, Christian Harder, Gianluca Masi, Martin Mobberley, Mike Olason, and Uwe Pilz and 91 visual and CCD magnitude measurements from Michel Deconinck, J. J. Gonzalez, Mike Olason, and Chris Wyatt of the following comets: C/2021 O1 (Nishimura), P/2021 N2 (Fuls), P/2021 N1 (ZTF), P/2021 L2 (Leonard), C/2020 T2 (Palomar), C/2020 S3 (Erasmus), C/2020 PV6 (PANSTARRS), C/2020 K6 (Rankin), C/2020 K1 (PANSTARRS), C/2020 J1 (SONEAR), C/2020 F5 (MASTER), C/2019 U5 (PANSTARRS), C/2019 L3 (ATLAS), C/2019 K7 (Smith), C/2019 F1 (ATLAS-Africano), C/2018 U1 (Lemmon), C/2017 U7 (PANSTARRS), C/2017 K2 (PANSTARRS), 424P/La Sagra, 402P/LINEAR, 395P/Catalina-NEAT, 378P/McNaught, 284P/McNaught, 252P/LINEAR, 246P/NEAT, 241P/LINEAR, 193P/LINEAR-NEAT, 132P/Helin-Roman-Alu, 119P/Parker-Hartley, 110P/Hartley, 108P/Ciffreo, 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann, 19P/Borrelly, 17P/Holmes, 15P/Finlay, 10P/Tempel, 7P/Pons-Winnecke, 6P/d’Arrest, and 4P/Faye.

We’d like to especially thank Dan Bartlett who has graciously agreed to contribute his observations to the ALPO Comets Section.

In addition to observations submitted directly to the ALPO, we occasionally use data from other sources to augment our analysis. We would like to acknowledge with thanks observations submitted directly to the ALPO as well as those originally submitted to the International Comet Quarterly, Minor Planet Center, and COBS Comet Observation Database. We would also like to thank the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for making available their Small-Body Browser and Orbit Visualizer and Seiichi Yoshida for his Comets for Windows programs that is used to produce the lightcurves in these pages. And last but not least, we’d like to thank Syuichi Nakano and the Minor Planet Center for their comet orbital elements, , the asteroid surveys for their discoveries, and all of the observers who volunteer their time to adding to our knowledge of these amazing objects.

The monthly ALPO Comet News PDF can be found here. A shorter version of this report is posted on a dedicated Cloudy Nights forum. All are encouraged to join the discussion over at Cloudy Nights.

- Carl Hergenrother

 
 

August 5, 2021 – ALPO Comet News for August 2021

Summary

July saw the discovery of 9th magnitude C/2021 O1 (Nishimura), though the comet was located so close to the Sun that few have been able to observe it. While we are still waiting for a comet to brighten into an easy-to-observe object for small apertures, a number of fainter comets are visible in the magnitude 10-13 range for imagers and large aperture visual observers. A recent discovery, C/2021 O3 (PANSTARRS), is currently around 18-19th magnitude but may brighten into a nice binocular object early next year.

Comets Section News

The ALPO’s Annual Conference will be held virtually on Friday and Saturday, August 13-14. Each day is packed with talks about various aspects of Solar System observing. The Comets Section will be presenting two talks. One will be an overview of the past year’s comet observations. The second talk will be on a slightly different topic, Solar System numismatics (i.e., Solar System objects, including comets, on coins and medals). The meeting is free and more information on the conference and how to watch can be found on the ALPO web site at http://alpo-astronomy.org/.

During July, the ALPO Comets Section received 27 images and/or sketches from Michel Deconinck, Carl Hergenrother, Martin, Mobberley, and Mike Olason of the following comets: 4P/Faye, 7P/Pons-Winnecke, 10P/Tempel, 15P/Finlay, 19P/Borrelly, 47P/Ashbrook-Jackson, 106P/Schuster, C/2017 K2 (PANSTARRS), C/2017 Y2 (PANSTARRS), C/2018 U1 (Lemmon), C/2019 K7 (Smith), C/2019 T3 (ATLAS), C/2019 T4 (ATLAS), C/2019 U5 (PANSTARRS), C/2020 F2 (ATLAS), C/2020 H5 (Robinson), C/2020 K1 (PANSTARRS), C/2020 M5 (ATLAS), C/2020 O2 (Amaral), C/2020 PV6 (PANSTARRS), C/2020 T2 (Palomar), C/2021 A1 (Leonard), C/2021 O1 (Nishimura).

The Section also received 82 visual and CCD magnitude measurements from Michel Deconinck, J. J. Gonzalez, Carl Hergenrother, Mike Olason, and Chris Wyatt of comets 4P/Faye, 7P/Pons-Winnecke, 10P/Tempel, 15P/Finlay, 19P/Borrelly, 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, 106P/Schuster, 246P/NEAT, C/2017 K2 (PANSTARRS), C/2018 U1 (Lemmon), C/2019 F1 (ATLAS-Africano), C/2019 L3 (ATLAS), C/2019 T4 (ATLAS), C/2020 F5 (MASTER), C/2020 J1 (SONEAR), C/2020 PV6 (PANSTARRS), C/2020 T2 (Palomar), C/2021 A1 (Leonard), and C/2021 O1 (Nishimura).

In addition to observations submitted to the ALPO, we also occasionally use data from other sources to augment our analysis. We acknowledge with thanks comet observations submitted to the International Comet Quarterly, Minor Planet Center, COBS Comet Observation Database, and our own ALPO contributors used in this report.

The monthly ALPO Comet News PDF can be found here. A shorter version of this report is posted on a dedicated Cloudy Nights forum. All are encouraged to join the discussion over at Cloudy Nights.

- Carl Hergenrother

 
 

July 8, 2021 – ALPO Comet News for July 2021

Summary

We are still in the midst of a bright comet drought. The brightest comets of July should be around magnitude 10.0. These include two comets that ranked among the “brightest” last month, C/2020 T2 (Palomar) and 7P/Pons-Winnecke. Joining them around the magnitude 10.0 level will be another short-period comet, 15P/Finlay, which should reach its brightest at the end of July into early August. Between 11th and 13th magnitude are a number of other comets such as 4P/Faye, 8P/Tuttle, C/2017 K2 (PANSTARRS), and C/2019 L3 (ATLAS). Imagers are encouraged to continue monitoring inbound C/2021 A1 (Leonard). While this comet still has the potential to be a notable object at the end of the year, that hope is fading as the comet has been slow to brighten. Among newly discovered objects, C/2014 UN271 (Bernardinelli-Bernstein) ranks as one of the most interesting discoveries in some time. This object is still 10 years away from an extremely large perihelion distance of 10.95 au. Bernardinelli-Bernstein has already been imaged going back to 2014 and it is possible modestly equipped imagers may be able to follow it as an active object for another 20 years!

Comets Section News

Since June 1, the ALPO Comets Section received 15 images and/or sketches from John Chumack, Michel Deconinck, Jim Filipski, Carl Hergenrother, Martin, Mobberley, Mike Olason, John D. Sabia, and Tenho Tuomi of the following comets: 4P/Faye, 6P/d’Arrest, 7P/Pons-Winnecke, 8P/Tuttle, 15P/Finlay, 57P/du Toit-Neujmin-Delporte, 108P/Schuster, 246P/NEAT, C/2020 J1 (SONEAR), C/2020 T2 (Palomar), C/2021 A1 (Leonard), C/2021 D2 (ATLAS), P/2021 J3 (ATLAS), and an oldie but goodie of C/1975 V1 (West).

Also since June 1, the Section has received 58 magnitude measurements from Michel Deconinck, J. J. Gonzalez, Carl Hergenrother, and Chris Wyatt of comets 7P/Pons-Winnecke, 10P/Tempel, 15P/Finlay, 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, 117P/Helin-Roman-Alu, 246P/NEAT, C/2017 K2 (PANSTARRS), C/2018 U1 (Lemmon), C/2019 F1 (ATLAS-Africano), C/2019 L3 (ATLAS), C/2019 T4 (ATLAS), C/2020 F5 (MASTER), C/2020 J1 (SONEAR), C/2020 R4 (ATLAS), C/2020 S3 (Erasmus), C/2020 T2 (Palomar), and C/2021 A1 (Leonard).

In addition to observations submitted to the ALPO, we also occasionally use data submitted to other sources for our analysis. We acknowledge with thanks the comet observations from the International Comet Quarterly, the Minor Planet Center, the COBS Comet Observation Database, and our own ALPO contributors used in this report.

The monthly ALPO Comet News PDF can be found here. A shorter version of this report is posted on a dedicated Cloudy Nights forum. All are encouraged to join the discussion over at Cloudy Nights.

- Carl Hergenrother

 
 

June 3, 2021 – ALPO Comet News for June 2021

Summary
Comets C/2020 T2 (Palomar) and 7P/Pons-Winnecke should vie for the title of brightest comet of June though they should only reach magnitude 10.0. While June won’t see any “bright” comets, there are a large number of fainter objects, in addition to the aforementioned comets, between magnitudes 10 and 13. These fainter objects include some low numbered periodic comets (4P/Faye, 8P/Tuttle, 10P/Tempel, and 15P/Finlay) and long period comets C/2019 L3 (ATLAS), C/2020 J1 (SONEAR), and C/2020 R4 (ATLAS). C/2021 A1 (Leonard) is still inbound and has the potential to be a notable object at the end of the year, though its lack of recent brightening is concerning.

Comets Section News
During the month of May 2021, the ALPO Comets Section received 32 images and/or sketches from Denis Buczynski, John Chumack, Carl Hergenrother, Martin, Mobberley, Mike Olason, Gregg Ruppel, John D. Sabia, and Chris Schur of the following comets: 4P/Faye, 6P/d’Arrest, 7P/Pons-Winnecke, 8P/Tuttle, 10P/Tempel, 15P/Fnlay, 17P/Holmes, 28P/Neujmin, 57P/du Toit-Neujmin-Delporte, 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, 117P/Helin-Roman-Alu, C/2017 K2 (PANSTARRS), C/2019 K7 (Smith), C/2020 H5 (Robinson), C/2020 S1 (SONEAR), C/2020 R4 (ATLAS), C/2020 S3 (Erasmus), C/2020 T2 (Palomar), C/2021 A1 (Leonard), C/2021 A9 (PANSTARRS), and C/2021 E3 (ZTF).

On the magnitude front, J. J. Gonzalez, Carl Hergenrother, and Chris Wyatt submitted 43 visual and CCD/CMOS brightness measurements of comets 7P/Pons-Winnecke, 117P/Helin-Roman-Alu, 246P/NEAT, C/2017 K2 (PANSTARRS), C/2018 U1 (Lemon), C/2019 F1 (ATLAS-Africano), C/2019 T4 (ATLAS), C/2020 F5 (MASTER), C/2020 J1 (SONEAR), C/2020 R4 (ATLAS), C/2020 T2 (Palomar), and C/2021 A1 (Leonard).

The Comets Section Image Gallery (http://www.alpo-astronomy.org/gallery3/index.php/Comet-Images-and-Observations) also reached a milestone in May when the number of images/sketches passed the 6000 mark. The next milestone is the total number of different comets represented in the Gallery. We are only 4 comets away from having images of 600 comets.

We plan on publishing our analysis of the bright comets of 2019 in an upcoming issue of the Journal of the ALPO. If you have any comet observations from 2019, especially for comets 260P/McNaught, C/2018 N2 (ASSASN), C/2018 W2 (Africano), and C/2018 Y1 (Iwamoto), please consider sending them to the Comets Section at comets@alpo-astronomy.org. We would like to thank Jef De Wit, Uwe Pilz, and Michael Rosolina who recently contributed sketches of 2019’s brighter comets.

The monthly ALPO Comet News PDF can be found here. A shorter version of this report is posted on a dedicated Cloudy Nights forum. All are encouraged to join the discussion over at Cloudy Nights.

- Carl Hergenrother

 
 

May 6, 2021 – ALPO Comet News for May 2021

C/2020 R4 (ATLAS) finished April a little brighter than expected due to a small outburst. This month should see the comet fade from 8-9th magnitude to 11-12th magnitude. While no other comets are expected to be brighter than 10th magnitude this month, there are several slightly fainter objects at 11-12th magnitude.

The monthly ALPO Comet News PDF can be found here. A shorter version of this report is posted on a dedicated Cloudy Nights forum. All are encouraged to join the discussion over at Cloudy Nights.

- Carl Hergenrother

 
 

April 3, 2021 – ALPO Comet News for April 2021

As announced in the Spring 2021 issue of the Journal of the ALPO, Michel Deconinck has graciously accepted to serve as Acting Assistant Coordinator of the ALPO Comets Section. Michel is an avid observers and master sketcher of not just comets but many astronomical phenomena. Two of his sketches are included in the PDF version of this month’s Report. Please join me in welcoming Michel to the ALPO team!

Two comets, C/2020 R4 (ATLAS) and C/2021 D1 (SWAN) reached 9th magnitude in March. While SWAN should now be fainter than magnitude 10.0 and fading, C/2020 R4 (ATLAS) will continue to brighten to about magnitude 8.5 as it passes 0.46 au from Earth on April 23. A number of fainter comets are also visible for large aperture visual observers including 7P/Pons-Winnecke which is brightening to a 11th magnitude maximum in June/July. This marks 7P’s 25th observed return and is part of a run of low numbered periodic comets returning in 2021.

The monthly ALPO Comet News PDF can be found here. A shorter version of this report is posted on a dedicated Cloudy Nights forum. All are encouraged to join the discussion over at Cloudy Nights.

- Carl Hergenrother

 
 

March 5, 2021 – ALPO Comet News for March 2021

Not sure if we’ll have any comets brighter than 10th magnitude this month though there are two contenders. C/2020 R4 (ATLAS) may break the magnitude 10 barrier at the end of March but this is uncertain as the comet has not been observed since early January (due to being too close to the Sun). Newly discovered C/2021 D1 (SWAN) is close to the magnitude 10 barrier but it appears likely that it is as bright as it will get at 10-11th magnitude. In the meantime, there are many other comets between magnitude 10 and 13 that are good targets for CCD imagers and large aperture visual observers. Though still around 18th magnitude, imagers are encouraged to monitor C/2020 A1 (Leonard) which may become a nice object in December.

The monthly ALPO Comet News PDF can be found here. A shorter version of this report is posted on a dedicated Cloudy Nights forum. All are encouraged to join the discussion over at Cloudy Nights.

- Carl Hergenrother

 
 

February 4, 2021 – ALPO Comet News for February 2021

For the second month in a row, no comets are expected to be brighter than 10th magnitude. Hopefully, this changes in March with C/2020 R4 (ATLAS). In the meantime, there are nearly a dozen comets between magnitude 10 and 13 that are good targets for CCD imagers and large aperture visual observers including 88P/Howell, 156P/Russell-LINEAR, 141P/Machholz, C/2019 N1 (ATLAS), C/2020 M3 (ATLAS), C/2021 A2 (NEOWISE), and P/2016 J3 = P/2021 A3 (STEREO).

Recently discovered C/2020 A1 (Leonard) may be a nice object in December. Currently a faint 18-19th magnitude object, CCD imagers are encouraged to monitor it as it brightens.

The monthly ALPO Comet News PDF can be found here. A shorter version of this report is posted on a dedicated Cloudy Nights forum. All are encouraged to join the discussion over at Cloudy Nights.

- Carl Hergenrother

 
 

January 3, 2021 – ALPO Comet News for January 2021

While many of us are happy to see the end of 2020, it was actually quite a good year for comet observing. No less than 13 comets were observed at magnitude 10.0 or brighter. The comet highlight of the year was C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) which was the most impressive comet for northern hemisphere observers since C/1995 O1 (Hale-Bopp) in 1997.

Though it is unlikely 2021 will deliver another NEOWISE-type event, the year is predicted to see a large number of reasonably bright short-period comets, though most won’t be bright till the 2nd half of the year. As a result, 2021 will start off slow with no comets expected to be brighter than 10th magnitude in January. We may need to wait till February or March when long-period comet C/2020 R4 (ATLAS) could become bright enough for small aperture observers.

The monthly ALPO Comet News PDF can be found here. A shorter version of this report is posted on a dedicated Cloudy Nights forum. All are encouraged to join the discussion over at Cloudy Nights.

- Carl Hergenrother

 
 

December 3, 2020 – ALPO Comet News for December 2020

November turned out to be a great month for comet observers with 101 magnitude estimates of 9 comets and 44 images of 10 comets being submitted to the Comets Section. C/2020 S3 (Erasmus) led the pack as it brightened to 6th magnitude. C/2020 M3 (ATLAS), 156P/Russell-LINEAR and 88P/Howell were also visible between 7th and 10th magnitude. This month, Erasmus will be too close to the Sun for ground-based observers. As is fitting for 2020, we will be able to follow Erasmus virtually in images taken by the SOHO and STEREO spacecraft. C/2020 M3, 156P, and 88P will be fading but still bright enough for small aperture observers. For those willing to try fainter objects, 11P/Tempel-Swift-LINEAR, 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann, 141P/Machholz, 398P/Boattini, and disintegrating C/2020 P1 (NEOWISE) will be between 10th and 14th magnitude.

The monthly ALPO Comet News PDF can be found here. Note with all of the recent comet activity, this report is a bit large in size. A shorter version of this report is posted on a dedicated Cloudy Nights forum. All are encouraged to join the discussion over at Cloudy Nights.

- Carl Hergenrother

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