After all, this 2015 we will have another Christmas comet! After last year’s comet C/2014 Q2 Lovejoy, those living in the northern hemisphere are saluting comet C/2013 US10 Catalina, already giving a stunning show at dawn.
This icy world was discovered on 31 Oct. 2013 and showed as an asteroid, later revealing a fuzzy shape, typical for comets. Soon after, it was clear that this object had the potential to make a good apparition for the end of 2015. For most of the year, C/2013 US10 Catalina was an exclusive for those living south of the terrestrial equator and, after delighting their eyes, it moved north, with perfect democracy.
While initially expected to peak at mag. 3, it will reasonably do these days at mag. 5 or so, still quite a view with a pair of binoculars. For sure, it will be an excellent target for wide field photography, proudly displaying its long, colored tails.
Quite interestingly, On 1 Jan. 2016, the comet will be less than half a degree from the bright star Arcturus.
While writing this, comet C/2013 US10 Catalina is visible at the end of the night, at dusk, but it is quickly improving, so those willing to have a look can start trying right now, as even the Moon, after interfering with it for a while, is leaving the sky to this gaseous gem.
The chart above plots the path across the stars of the comet; positions are marked daily, at 00:00h of Universal Time. Using a binocular to scan the patch of heaven where the comet is, you will surely locate it.
For the best experience, is preferable to observe/image from a dark site, far from city lights, but if you cannot leave your urban location, try the same.
We will keep you posted on this show, soon announcing a live coverage, online, of this wonderful gift by Santa Claus.
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