British Astronomical Association
Director: Nick James
Visual observations page
(Co-ordinator Jonathan Shanklin)
Jul 04 Worachate Boonplod reports a Kreutz group comet in real time C3 images
Jul 04 Robert Pickard reports a Kreutz group comet in archival C2 images
Jul 08 Recovery of 2012 S2 (P/La Sagra) as 2021 L5 reported
Jul 09 Cometary activity (tail) reported in (248370) 2005 QN173
Jul 13 Discovery of 2021 N1 (P/ZTF) reported
Jul 13 Rafal Biros reports a Kreutz group comet in archival C2 images
Jul 13 Salil Mulye reports a Kreutz group comet in real time C3 images
Jul 13 Worachate Boonplod reports a non-group comet in real time C3 images
Jul 13 Worachate Boonplod reports a Meyer group comet in real time C2 images
Jul 14 Sergey Shurpakov reports a Kreutz group comet in real time C3 images
Jul 15 Discovery of 2021 N2 (P/Fuls) reported
Jul 16 Masanori Uchina reports a Kreutz group comet in real time C3 images
Jul 19 Robert Pickard reports a Kreutz group comet in archival C2 images
Jul 19 Rafal Biros reports a Kreutz group comet in archival C2 images
Jul 19 Worachate Boonplod reports a Kreutz group comet in real time C3 images
Jul 20 Worachate Boonplod reports a Kreutz group comet in real time C3 images
Jul 22 Discovery of 2021 N3 (PanSTARRS) reported
Jul 23 Robert Pickard reports a Kreutz group comet in archival C2 images
Jul 25 Discovery of 2021 O1 (Nishimura) reported
Jul 25 Peter Berrett reports a non-group comet in archival C2 images
Jul 25 Rafal Biros reports a Kreutz group comet in archival C2 images
Jul 27 Worachate Boonplod reports a Kreutz group comet in real time C3 images
Jul 28 Robert Pickard reports a Kreutz group comet in archival C2 images
Jul 28 Peter Berrett reports a non-group comet in delayed C2 images
Jul 30 Recovery of 2005 W3 (P/Kowalski) as 2021 O2 reported
Aug 01 Discovery of 2021 O3 (PanSTARRS) reported
Aug 03 Update
If there have been no recent updates try The German comet group page
or Seiichi Yoshida's page for information or the
Liga Iberoamericana de Astronomia for observations.
Elsewhere on these pages:
Newly discovered comets /
Periodic comets /
Contributing observations /
Comet Ephemerides /
Upcoming Comets /
Observing Comets / Links /
Meetings / Publications /
Comments and Contacts /
Old 2021 News / Comet discovery procedure /
Weather information /
The Comet's Tale / BAA
Comet Section image archive / Project Alcock
/ More information /
Legacy page /
Main BAA Comet Section page
Current comet magnitudes and observable region
Comet Magnitude Trend Observable When visible Last visual observation
2021 O1 (Nishimura) 9.5 steady Poor elongation Not yet observed
2020 T2 (Palomar) 11 fade 45 N to 75 S evening 2021 July
15P/Finlay 11 fade 50 N to 30 S early morning 2021 July
2019 L3 (ATLAS) 11.5 bright 55 N to 10 N morning 2021 July
4P/Faye 12 bright 55 N to 50 S morning 2021 July
2017 K2 (PanSTARRS) 12.5 bright 55 N to 20 S best evening 2021 July
7P/Pons-Winnecke 12.5 fade 10 N to 90 S best morning 2021 July
29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 13 ? varies 50 N to 20 S early morning 2021 January
10P/Tempel 13.5 fade 45 N to 50 S morning 2021 July
2020 J1 (SONEAR) 13.5 fade 30 N to 65 S evening 2021 July
2019 T4 (ATLAS) 14 steady Poor elongation 2021 July
67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko 14.5 bright 55 N to 55 S morning 2021 July
Details are usually updated at the beginning of each
month, but may be updated more frequently for brighter comets. The last
update was on August 3. The magnitude is a rough value for the
mean magnitude reported; some observers will see the comet brighter than this,
whilst others will see it fainter. The observable region is an approximate indication of the latitude at
which the comet may be seen. Under good conditions comets may be visible
outside this range. The period when visible is for the UK if the comet
is visible from the UK, otherwise for 40 S or the Equator as appropriate.
The last visual observation is as received by the Section, details are often updated on
the basis of observations published elsewhere. Beginners will often find comets fainter than about 7th magnitude difficult to
locate - see below for information on positions and finder charts.
Highlights and News
The Section welcomes observations from all comet enthusiasts, whether members of the
BAA or not. An advantage of joining the BAA is that you can read papers on comets
published in the BAA Journal. The 2021 February Journal included a paper on "The
brighter comets of 2017". Further papers in this series (2018 - 2019) and a paper drawing conclusions from
the series are in press.
New comet 2021 O3 (PanSTARRS) may be visible to UK observers next May as a
6th magnitude object, initially in the evening sky but quickly becoming
visible all night. It will fade rapidly. It does however have a
relatively faint absolute magnitude, so may not survive perihelion.
Although some sources are hyping the prospects for 2021 A1 (Leonard),
which might or might not reach 4th magnitude at the end of the year, they do
not mention that the comet will be visible in the morning sky. You
will need to be up at 6am to see it. Current electronic observations
suggest that it has a faint absolute magnitude and is only brightening
slowly. It might reach 7th magnitude.
- I would like to thank all those who have sent me congratulations on the
naming of a small piece of Antarctica as
Shanklin Glacier. Exploration of icy parts of the world clearly
runs in the blood as my great-grandfather kept diaries which record the
passage of a comet below the Plough, the discovery of a comet by his
brother, Bernard Thomas, from Tasmania and the expeditions to Antarctica by
Scott and Shackleton. See also this
- Details of the discovery, observations and analyses of new comets which
were discovered during
2017 [updated 2021 August 3],
2019 [updated 2021 May 15] ,
2020 [updated 2021 June 16] ,
2021 [updated 2021 August 3]
Note that in general only details of brighter currently visually observable comets are
updated and that analyses of the brighter comets of past years will be published in the BAA Journal.
- Details, observations and analyses of periodic comets numbered
1 - 100 [updated 2021 July 3],
101 - 199 [updated 2021 March 22],
200 - 299 [updated 2021 April 16],
300 - 399 [updated 2021 March 22],
400 - 499 [updated 2021 July 30]
cometary asteroids, potentially numberable comets and periodic SOHO comets
[updated 2021 July 12].
- A list of SOHO comets discovered during 2000 ,
2020 [updated 2021 February 25] ,
2021 [updated 2021 July 29] and SOHO X/ comets.
- Observations submitted in ICQ format for comets of
2006 , 2007 ,
2008 , 2009 ,
2010 , 2011 ,
2012 , 2013 ,
2014 , 2015 ,
2016 , 2017 ,
2018 , 2019 ,
2020 [updated 2021 August 3] and 2021 [updated 2021
Observations submitted or published in ICQ.
Observations in COBS.
Light curves of comets that may become brighter than 10th
magnitude (aperture corrected for potential naked eye comets) [click on
thumbnail to get the full scale image, updated on 2021 August 3]. The
dotted lines represent 99% confidence limits. 2017 K2.
Comet magnitude parameters [ updated 2021 August 3].
- Full IAUC details of SOHO Kreutz group and other comets announced during
- General information on Kreutz and sun approaching comets
[updated 2021 March 22], on LASCO, STEREO and the Kreutz comets
and a list of all SOHO comets [updated 2016 June 2].
- Daily news from
1999 / 2000 /
2001 / 2002 /
2003 / 2004 /
2005 / 2006 /
2007 / 2008 /
2009 / 2010 /
2011 / 2012 /
2013 / 2014 /
2015 / 2016 /
2017 / 2018 /
2019 / 2020 /
- Maik Meyer's comet mailing list
- Contact Nick James <ndj [at] nickdjames.com>
to be added to the distribution list for the BAA Comet Section electronic discussion forum.
Comet ephemerides (positions) etc
For positions of newly discovered comets see the
NEO confirmation page
. You can also generate your own ephemerides and elements at the CBAT
Minor Planet and Comet
Ephemeris Service web page. The elements and ephemerides from the JPL Small-Body Database Browser
give estimates of the errors, which are often far larger than might be thought from the
accuracy of the elements given by the CBAT. Seiichi Yoshida has pages for
currently visible comets, which include finder charts. Seiichi also has a
comet rendezvous page,
which lists conjunctions between comets, variable stars and nebulae and a
comet recovery page, which
lists periodic comets not yet recovered at the present return. The
T3 project aims to discover comets
amongst the population of asteroids influenced by Jupiter.
Planning aids and information for forthcoming comets, valid out to about 2025.
- Comets reaching within three degrees of 180° opposition
[updated 2013 December 31]
- Comets reaching within three degrees of zero phase angle
[updated 2013 December 31]
The MPC also has a
list of the last observation
for all comets. Electronic observers should try and observe any
comets that have not recently been observed according to the CBAT but which
are expected to be within range of their equipment. Negative observations
are also useful. In addition, the MPC has orbital elements for
unusual asteroids, many of
which have cometary orbits.
The BAA Computing Section has
for the comets listed here. There are daily finder charts for bright comets at
Heavens Above. Reinder Bouma and
Edwin van Dijk's
astrosite Groningen has an excellent
finder charts for
brighter comets, which also show suitable comparison stars.
The elements and ephemerides from the JPL Small-Body Database Browser
give estimates of the errors, which are often far larger than might be thought from the
accuracy of the elements given by the CBAT. Full details of the latest orbits are available from Kazuo Kinoshita's
Comet Orbit Home Page. I compile orbital elements in
Megastar format for: numbered periodic comets ,
(updated 2021 August 3) and
comets prior to 2006. Most of the more recent elements
include the latest magnitude parameters. The elements are from a mix of CBAT
catalogues, MPC, MPEC, JPL and individual orbit computers.
Download Richard Fleet's
GraphDark software for graphically displaying comet (and other object) visibility. Latest
version is 2.05, 2007 May.
Download William Schwittek's CometWin software
for generating comet ephemerides and visibility diagrams. [Updated 2002 March 5]
Download Solex, N-body solar system dynamics software.
Predictions for the comets expected to return in
2021 [updated 2021 January 15], 2022 [updated 2021
August 3], 2023
[Updated 2021 July 3] and 2024
[Created 2021 February 3] are published in the BAA Journal in December each year.
[Updated 2021 August 2] gives the period of visibility and maximum
brightness for comets that are predicted to be visible within the next
few years. A few are listed further into the future.
Seiichi Yoshida also has a list
of comets likely to be visible in the next five years.
Observations may be used in the reports on comets
which appear on these pages, in The Comet's Tale and in the BAA Journal.
Guidance on observing is given in the BAA Comet Observing Guide
Thanks to the many observers who do send in
their observations in ICQ format. Imagers are encouraged to reduce their
observations to equivalent visual magnitude (see
) and submit them in this format. Do check the observation files to see if what
you sent matches what is there, as I still have to edit some of the submitted records,
particularly the position of "m" when tail
length is given in minutes, the focal ratio and the designation of periodic
comets 1-99. If your observations are missing it may be because you have not used the correct format,
which includes ICQ as a key. If you use the
Comet Observation Database
to enter your observations they will be formatted correctly, but
please send them to me for inclusion in TA.
Visual and visual equivalent magnitude observations should be sent to me at <jds [at] ast.cam.ac.uk> in
simple text format.
Visual observers can use
the BAA visual report form
to log observations. To avoid the use of multiple formats the ICQ format
, which uses special
keys to code
observation particulars, is now standardised as the one to use for submission and archiving of
observations. The ICQ have not updated their observation keys since 2010, so these additional
keys are suggested for use when submitting observations to the BAA (updated 2020
October 3). Crni Vhr Observatory has launched
the Comet Observation Database which allows entry of observations
in ICQ format, and plots of light curves. Visual observations entered using this system
should be emailed to me at the end of the month. Observations are
usually analysed and sent to TA as soon as possible after the end of the month
with a TA deadline of the 2nd; any late
observations will be used in subsequent analyses. Observations will continue to be published by Guy Hurst in
magazine in TA format.
There is also a visual drawing form. The German comet group also has a computer program that will
correctly format observations for the ICQ [2009 December].
should be sent to Denis Buczynski.
Regular contributors include James Abbott, Jose Aguiar, Alexander Amorim,
Nicolas Biver, Denis Buczynski, Paul Camilleri, Peter Carson, Matyas Csukas, Roger Dymock, John Fletcher, Marco Goiato, Juan Gonzalez,
Bjorn Granslo, Werner Hasubick,
Kevin Hills, Nick James, Heinz Kerner,
Carlos Labordena, Rolando Ligustri, Michael Mattiazzo, Maik Mayer, Antonio Milani,
Martin Mobberley, Jose Navarro Pina, Gabriel Oksa, Mieczyslaw Paradowski,
Nirmal Paul, Stuart Rae, Walter Robledo,
Tony Scarmato, Willian Souza, David Strange, Johan Warrell Chris Wyatt and Seiichi Yoshida,
several of whom contribute observations from their colleagues. Thanks are
due to all of them.
Warning I receive a large number of emails
containing viruses or other junk. Please try and make clear that your message is
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Comments and contact
Many thanks to those that regularly access this page for your interest.
If you have any comments, suggestions for improvement or find any problems,
please email the visual co-ordinator,
Jon Shanklin, at j.shanklin @ bas.ac.uk.
If you need to phone me, my home number is +44 (0)1223 571250
or my BAS number is +44 (0)1223 221482.
Snail mail will reach
me at the British Antarctic Survey, Madingley Road, CAMBRIDGE CB3 0ET, England.
For information about my work with BAS see my
web page at BAS.
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