Professor Comet Reports

Professor Comet's Report2014 COMET UPDATE! (5-12-14)

Hello to All Fellow ASSET folks,

I give you an updated situation report on Comets from your respectable Professor Comet!

Comet C/2012 K1 PanSTARRS is undergoing a surprise outburst with a dust tail slightly visible under averted vision. The tail has a fan shape with one end being the dust tail and other the ion tail that is very narrow, but stretches over a length of the sky great than the width of a perigee Moon. It is currently moving parallel with the ‘crooked arm’ of the Big Dipper heading in a westward direction while residing in the northern region of Canes Venatici until early – mid May! The comet will eventually move WSW to SW thru the feet of the Ursa Major by the end of May and then thru Leo just west of ‘The Sickle’ an asterism of Leo in its Western region by mid to late July. Currently the comet can be found on the meridian between 11:30 pm and midnight CDT. Right now the comet originally predicted to be around mid-9th magnitude with observations placing it between 9 to 9.3. However, myself and two other astronomers at the George Observatory last Saturday night observed in both a 10″ and 18″ newtonian telescopes and it appears much brighter against the Houston light dome. I would say it is currently at 7th magnitude, but its original light curve would not place it at a maximum brightness of Magnitude 6.0 until September, but if this keeps up then it could get as bright as 4th magnitude if it maintains the general properties of its light curve. However, it could fade out if this is just an outburst even though it is a couple of months away from reaching perihelion.

Some other good news it appears that comets C/2014 E2 Jacques & C/2013 V5 Oukaimeden are now predicted to be brighter than visual magnitudes of 4.0 and 5.0 respectfully. C/2014 E2 Jacques is now moving through the constellation of Monoceros and will continue moving deeper into the constellations of the ‘Winter Hexagon’ thru late July! There peak brightness will occur during the month of July for comet Jacques and will continue to be brighter than 6th magnitude through at least September when it is between Hydra and Monoceros moving SW until it is lost to observers in the northern hemisphere by the first week of November. Comet Oukaimeden will peak at 5th magnitude during the month of September while speeding across the constellations of the Spring Sky very quickly from the central region of Monoceros at the beginning of that month heading eastward towards the eastern tail end of Hydra to the far ESE of Corvus before month’s end.

All three of these comets will be morning objects at there peak brightness in the few hours before the end of nautical twilight! Catch comet PanSTARRS while you can it moving westwards at roughly two full moons a day. It will still be visible for all of this month, but it will be about 13.461 degrees west of the meridian by 9 pm CDT. After that it will be more difficult to observe it as it moves further towards to the setting sun and by July 1 to see in night time skies look towards due west as the Sickle of Leo is beginning to set by 9 pm the comet will have an altitude of 20deg 21min above the horizon to the WNW. It will be visible again around 6 am in early September low in the sky due E and just east of the head of Hydra!

Another possible comet I am now watching over in the forecasts for visibility is comet 32P/Comas Sola there is a small possibility of this comet reaching 5th magnitude in November of this year while it is moving eastward towards Leo and undergoing retrograde motion at the back end of the constellation through May 2015!

More Details Later!

Also check out a new meteor shower predicted the weekend around the start of TSP 2014. Comet 209P/LINEAR will be passing near the orbit of the Earth reaching perigee around the end of this month while moving south of the plane of the ecliptic (plane of the Earth’s orbit). It is spewing out a tail of debris that will move upwards towards the northern ecliptic hemisphere and the Earth will pass through this debris trail at it’s eastern end. The material will likely come from the comet’s anti – tail with meteoroids reaching sizes above 1 mm. It could produce a heavy meteor shower with a ZHR predicted between 200 – 450. Meaning lots of meteors, but the radiant which is the point at which all meteors diverge from signifying the direction of the comet’s path will lie in the constellation of Camelopardalis at a declination of 79 degrees making this a circumpolar meteor shower! Based on the data collected so far the prediction is that there will be no build up to this meteor shower it will occur the morning of 24 May starting from 1:30 am CST through sunrise. After that nothing else! This is expected to be a one night, once in a lifetime major meteor shower, hopefully!

I hope everyone gets a chance to see it, the Moon will only be a waning crescent at 20% of a full illuminated disk and will not rise above the Eastern horizon until about 3:43:49 AM CDT!

Enjoy!

Professor Comet

Justin McCollum

Please click the links below to download PDF

2013
Professor Comet Winter 2013
Professor Comet Summer Season – July & August 2013
Professor Comet S1 ISON
Professor Comet Mid Spring – May 2013
Professor Comet Late Winter 2013
Professor Comet Late Spring June 2013
Professor Comet Autumn 201

2012
Professor Comet Mid Autumn 2012
Professor Comet Late Autumn 2012
Professor Comet Report Summer_Early Autumn 2012
Professor Comet Report Late Summer 2012
Professor Comet Report Summer_Early Autumn 2012
Professor Comet Report June 2012
Professor Comet Report May 2012
Professor Comet Report April 2012
Professor Comet Report March 2012
Professor Comet Report February 2012
Professor Comet Report January 2012

 

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