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Friday, December 22, 2017

 

Seeing Comet C/2016 R2 in Outburst from Australia (December 2017)

Comet C/2016 R2 PanSTARRS as seen at 23:45 ACDST at the latitude of Adelaide, when it is at transit. The Comet is currently near the Hyades, under the shield of Orion. Click to embiggen.

Comet C/2016 R2 PanSTARRS is currently near the Hyades. It is high enough to be readily accessible telescopically from both Northern and southern hemispheres from astronomical twilight (northern hemisphere) about an hour after astronomical twilight (Southern hemisphere), being highest around 22:40 am local time for northern scopes and 23:45 local time from SSO. The Northern scopes have the best view. 

In Australia more Northern locations are favoured. However for most locations the comet is over 40 degrees above the horizon at transit. There are no really good guide stars, but for the next few days hunting around in the triangle formed by 90, 93 and 88 Tau should bring up the comet. Visually it will look like a fuzzy blob, which will move position over an hour or so. The tail is visible in extended CCD instrument exposures. 

Telescopic view of Comet C/2016 R2 PanSTARRS as seen at ACDST at the latitude of Adelaide, when it is at transit. The circle is the field of view of a 20mm eyepiece on a 114mm Newtonian, the small squares are the fields of view of SBIG and Starlight express imagers. Note this is d with respect to the spotter chart     above. Click to embiggen and print.

The comet is currently in outburst, having brightened to nearly magnitude 9, a full magnitude brighter than the predicted maximum. It has been reported by several observers to be visible in 20x80 binoculars. Observers in Australia have reported more modest magnitudes around 11, but still reasonably bright. 

The tail is showing some interesting structure (imagers only, not really visual) and is well worth following (see these gifs for the 18th, here and here, and this image from the 19th). It is possible the comet will continue to brighten.

CK16R020  2018 05 09.5796  2.602313  0.996530   33.1930   80.5696   58.2198  20170904   7.0  4.0      C/2016 R2 (PANSTARRS)

Ephemeris of C/2016 R2  (PANSTARRS) as seen from Adelaide (Pretty much the same for latitudes from Melbourne to Brisbane), Ignore the magnitude, it is no longer valid.
Ephemeris of comet C/2016 R2 PANSTARRS
Date Distance Mag Ast Twi E Rise Transit Altitude Set Ast Twi B Geo R.A. Geo Dec
21 Dec 2017 2.0542 13.3 22:15:54 18:22:11 23:52:30 +40° 52' 59" 05:28:29 04:11:28 04h 38m 05.9s +11° 05' 38"
22 Dec 2017 2.0539 13.3 22:16:23 18:17:48 23:47:17 +41° 01' 50" 05:22:26 04:11:57 04h 36m 48.2s +11° 22' 56"
23 Dec 2017 2.0540 13.3 22:16:49 18:13:25 23:42:04 +41° 08' 38" 05:16:23 04:12:28 04h 35m 30.9s +11° 40' 19"
24 Dec 2017 2.0545 13.3 22:17:13 18:09:04 23:36:52 +41° 13' 22" 05:10:20 04:13:02 04h 34m 14.3s +11° 57' 47"
25 Dec 2017 2.0553 13.3 22:17:34 18:04:44 23:31:41 +41° 16' 01" 05:04:17 04:13:39 04h 32m 58.4s +12° 15' 19"
26 Dec 2017 2.0565 13.3 22:17:52 18:00:24 23:26:30 +41° 16' 37" 04:58:15 04:14:18 04h 31m 43.1s +12° 32' 55"
27 Dec 2017 2.0580 13.3 22:18:07 17:56:06 23:21:20 +41° 15' 09" 04:52:13 04:15:00 04h 30m 28.7s +12° 50' 35"
28 Dec 2017 2.0599 13.3 22:18:20 17:51:49 23:16:11 +41° 11' 39" 04:46:11 04:15:45 04h 29m 15.1s +13° 08' 18"
29 Dec 2017 2.0621 13.3 22:18:29 17:47:33 23:11:03 +41° 06' 08" 04:40:10 04:16:32 04h 28m 02.4s +13° 26' 03"
30 Dec 2017 2.0646 13.3 22:18:36 17:43:18 23:05:56 +40° 58' 39" 04:34:10 04:17:21 04h 26m 50.7s +13° 43' 51"

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