British Astronomical Association
Director: Nick James
Visual observations page
(Co-ordinator Jonathan Shanklin)
Latest Discoveries and news
Dec 27 Robert Pickard reports a Kreutz group comet in archival C2 images
Dec 27 Trygve Prestgard reports a Kreutz group comet in real time C2 images
Jan 05 Peter Berrett reports a non-group comet in real time C2 images
Jan 06 Discovery of 2021 Y1 (ATLAS) reported
Jan 07 Discovery of 2022 A1 (Sarneczky) reported
Jan 11 Zesheng Yang reports a Kreutz group comet in real time C3 images
Jan 11 Recovery of 1997 B1 (P/Kobayashi) as 2021 W2 reported
Jan 13 Worachate Boonplod reports two Kreutz group comets in real time C3 images
Jan 16 Worachate Boonplod reports two Kreutz group comets in real time C3 images
Jan 17 Zesheng Yang reports a Kreutz group comet in real time C3 images
Jan 22 Dmitriy Zhizherunov reports a Kreutz group comet in real time C3 images
Jan 24 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 A1 (Leonard) 7.5 fade 30 S to 50 S early evening 2022 January
2019 L3 (ATLAS) 9 steady 90 N to 40 S all night 2022 January
19P/Borrelly 9 bright 75 N to 50 S evening 2022 January
67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko 9.5 fade 90 N to 45 S best morning 2022 January
104P/Kowal 11 steady 70 N to 50 S evening 2022 January
6P/d'Arrest 11 fade 40 N to 45 S evening 2022 January
2017 K2 (PanSTARRS) 11.5 bright 80 N to 50 N early morning 2022 January
4P/Faye 12 fade 75 N to 50 S all night 2021 December
57P/du Toit-Neujman-Delporte 12 outburst Poor elongation 2021 October
2019 T4 (ATLAS) 12.5 bright 30 N to 50 S morning 2022 January
29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 13 ? varies 90 N to 30 S best evening 2021 December
8P/Tuttle 13 fade 30 S to 50 S early morning 2021 November
9P/Tempel 13.5 bright 35 N to 20 S early morning Not yet observed
116P/Wild 13.5 bright 80 N to 45 S best morning Not yet observed
108P/Ciffreo 14 fade 90 N to 20 S all night 2022 January
Details are usually fully updated at the beginning of each
month, but some minor updates may be made more frequently, particularly for brighter comets. The last
(partial) update was on January 23. 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
A write up of my George Alcock lecture, which tells a little of the
Antarctic story is in press.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, with 2020 under review.
- 2021 A1 is still visible in early evening skies at locations between
about 30 S and 50 S. It
perihelion on January 3.
Its solar elongation is decreasing and it will have moved to a poor solar elongation
for observing by the end of the month. It will
re-emerge into the morning sky towards the end of February.
The comet has varied in brightness, possibly suggesting that the nucleus is
quite friable. This may be the normal activity pattern of the comet,
indicative of a weakly cohesive nucleus. Jet activity has been reported from the
nucleus. No doubt the comet will
continue to surprise us.
- 2019 L3 was an easy object with a well condensed coma in the
Northumberland refractor on December 31. 67P was a similar magnitude, but
less well condensed and harder to see. 19P was also a similar magnitude,
but difficult to see in the Northumberland on January 4.
Later than night 2019 L3 was quite easy in 25x100B from the centre of
- 104P has brightened rapidly. It
should stay this bright throughout January. This return sees its smallest perihelion
distance yet at 1.07 au on January 11.
- 2017 K2 is now brightening a little more rapidly.
The light curve below only utilises observations made during 2021.
observations of 67P at this return do not currently support evidence for
either a secular trend in the absolute magnitude or a dependence on
perihelion distance. The comet does however usually show a linear
light curve that peaks around a month after perihelion. The comet was
at perihelion on November 2.
- A pro-am meeting is being planned for
2022 June in Europe.
- 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 November 3],
2019 [updated 2022 January 5] ,
2020 [updated 2021 November 27] ,
2021 [updated 2022 January 12] ,
2022 [updated 2022 January 7]
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 2022 January 5],
101 - 199 [updated 2021 NOvember 19],
200 - 299 [updated 2021 August 16],
300 - 399 [updated 2021 March 22],
400 - 499 [updated 2022 January 12]
cometary asteroids, potentially numberable comets and periodic SOHO comets
[updated 2021 November 3].
- A list of SOHO comets discovered during 2000 ,
2021 [updated 2022 January 14] ,
2022 [Updated 2022 January 23]
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 , 2021 [updated 2022
2022 [created 2022 January 3].
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 2022 January 4]. The
dotted lines represent 99% confidence limits. 19P, 67P, 2017 K2, 2019
L3, 2021 A1.
Comet magnitude parameters [ updated 2022 January 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 /
2021 / 2022 /
- 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 (Kazuo
died in 2021 July and his web page hadn't been updated since 2020 February). I compile orbital elements in
Megastar format for: numbered periodic comets ,
(updated 2022 January 4) 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 2022
January 7], 2023
[Updated 2022 January 7] and 2024
[Updated 2022 January 7] are published in the BAA Journal in December each year.
[Updated 2021 October 29] gives the period of visibility and maximum
brightness for comets that are predicted to be brighter than 12th magnitude 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
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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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