Comet Section        


October 4, 2021 – ALPO Comet News for October 2021


Magnitude 9 to 10 may not be everyone’s idea of “bright” when it comes to comets. After months of no comets getting brighter than 10th magnitude, we finally have a few objects breaking the 10th magnitude barrier. The target of the European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission, 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko may brighten to around magnitude 9 this month. It will be observable from both hemispheres in the morning sky. 8P/Tuttle will start the month around 8-9th magnitude but is limited to southern hemisphere observers. C/2019 L3 (PANSTARRS) could become brighter than magnitude 10 though it will mainly be a northern object.

29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann experienced 4 outbursts in quick succession in late September. As a result, it is brighter than it has become in years with visual observers placing it between magnitude 10 and 11.

We continue to watch C/2021 A1 (Leonard) develop as it heads towards a December encounter with Earth. Recent observations show a rapid brightening trend, so imagers and large aperture visual observers are encouraged to observe it this month as it may brighten to magnitude 11 by the end of the month.

Comets Section News

During September, the ALPO Comets Section received 51 images and/or sketches from Dan Bartlett, Denis Buczynski, Eliot Herman, Gianluca Masi, Martin Mobberley, Uwe Pilz, Efrain Morales Rivera, Gregg Ruppel, and Chris Schur and 67 visual and CCD magnitude measurements from Michel Deconinck, J. J. Gonzalez, Mike Olason, and Chris Wyatt of the following comets: P/2021 Q5 (ATLAS), C/2021 O3 (PANSTARRS), C/2021 A1 (Leonard), C/2020 T2 (Palomar), C/2020 PV6 (PANSTARRS), C/2020 F5 (MASTER), C/2019 O3 (PANSTARRS), C/2019 L3 (ATLAS), C/2019 F1 (ATLAS-Africano), C/2018 U1 (Lemmon), C/2020 T2 (PANSTARRS), C/2017 K2 (PANSTARRS), 284P/McNaught, 193P/LINEAR-NEAT, 106P/Schuster, 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann, 19P/Borrelly, 15P/Finlay, 8P/Tuttle, 7P/Pons-Winnecke, 6P/d’Arrest, and 4P/Faye.

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 and dedicated comet hunters 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

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