Friday, February 01, 2019
Seeing C/2018 Y1 ( Iwamoto ) from Australia (February 2019)
C/2018 Y1 is a "bright" comet that should be readily visible in binoculars at its brightest. It is reasonably well placed for Australian viwers, but you may have to wait until afyerAs a fuzzy dot admittedly, but visible none the less. C/2018 Y1 currently in the constellation Virgo but will move rapidly into Leo. It is brightening and should be visible in binoculars by early February. It is currently magnitude 8 and may peak at magnitude 6.5 when it is 0.3 AU from Earth on the 12th. Its fuzzy, diffuse nature means it will be difficult to spot under suburban conditions. The comet passes a number of relatively bright stars that will make it easier to find.
The comet is at its best around 2:30 am, but is reasonably okay around midnight in the second week of February. On the 1st it is just above Spica, the brightest star in Virgo, on the subsequent nights it is within one or one and and a half binocular widths of each of the brighter stars in Virgo (see spotters chart). On the 7th in is in the same binocular (spotter scope) field as beta Virginis, on the 10th in the same binocular (spotter scope) field as Sigma Leonis. On the 11th it is between sigma and rho Leonis.
At its brightest it is just below Regulus, just outside of a binocular field, forming a triangle with rho Leonis and Regulus, so will be relatively easy to find. On the 13th it is almost on top of eta Leonis, so should again be very easy to spot. On the 14th it forms a triangle with Lambda and epsion Leoonis, and again should be easy to find.
As well as the charts above, there are PDF charts available A black and white PDF spotters chart suitable for printing is here . A black and white PDF chart suitable for binoculars is available here , the large circle is the approximate field of view of 10x50 binoculars.