Comet Catalina Now Binocular Visible

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Image Credit & Copyright: Sky & Telescope.

Discovered on October 31, 2013, Comet C/2013 US10 Catalina (Comet Catalina) now rises in the east before sunrise in the constellation Virgo, and by many accounts has become visible in binoculars at an apparent magnitude of approximately 6.5., and the show stands to be promising.

As the month continues, having just reached perihelion on November 15 at a distance of 0.8 AU; Catalina will travel further and further from the Sun as it rises earlier and earlier before the sun and is predicted to become a naked eye object with an apparent magnitude of possibly even around 4 in early January.

A few dates of interest are Monday, December 7, and on that morning, Catalina will be visiting the thin waning crescent moon and Venus about an hour before sunrise.  The Moon will actually occult Venus from certain locations so get the cameras and observing gear ready.

On Friday, January 1, Catalina will be visiting the red supergiant Arcturus in the constellation Bootes.  By this time Catalina will well into the night sky, away from the Sun so this view should be within reach by 2 am through sunrise.

On Sunday, January 17, Catalina makes its closest approach to Earth.  Take that with a grain of salt because the close pass will only bring the comet to within about 68-70 million miles.

In closing, this seems to be a one-off as it’s been said that the trajectory of Catalina shows that it will not only return to the outer solar system but will be ejected out of it altogether.  If you couple that with the thought that we may have a couple years to wait before another bright comet heads our way, I urge you to get out and have a look.

Sky & Telescope page for this object and image: http://www.skyandtelescope.com/astronomy-news/observing-news/get-a-predawn-peek-of-comet-catalina-120320155/

“Heavens-Above” page on this comet: http://www.heavens-above.com/comet.aspx?cid=C%2F2013%20US10&

Dominic Ford’s “In the Sky” page on this comet: https://in-the-sky.org/news.php?id=20151116_18_100

“The Sky Live” page on this comet: http://theskylive.com/c2013us10-info

“The Sky Live” real time tracking page for this comet: http://theskylive.com/c2013us10-tracker

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