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Sunday, May 03, 2020

 

Comet C/2020 F8 SWAN Unaided Eye Bright

Comet C/2020 F8 SWAN as seen looking east from Adelaide at 5:28 ACST (90 minutes before sunrise) on Monday the 4th of May. Beta Ceti (Deneb Kaitos/Diphida) is shown. Similar views will be seen in elsewhere in Australia 90 minutes before sunriseComet C/2020 F8 SWAN as seen looking east from Adelaide at 5:31 ACST (90 minutes before sunrise) on Friday the 8th of May. Similar views will be seen in elsewhere in Australia 90 minutes before sunrise
Comet C/2020 F8 SWAN as seen looking east from Adelaide at 6:05 ACST (60 minutes before sunrise) on Friday the 16th of May. Similar views will be seen in elsewhere in Australia 60 minutes before sunriseComet C/2020 F8 SWAN as seen looking east from Adelaide at 6:37 ACST (30 minutes before sunrise) on Saturday the 16th of May. Similar views will be seen in elsewhere in Australia 30 minutes before sunrise

Comet C/2020 F8 SWAN is unexpectedly bright, Comet C/2020 F8 SWAN is currently magnitude 5 (just visible to the unaided eye) under dark sky conditions, and may reach magnitude 2.9 at its brightest (which unfortunately is lost in the twilight).

Currently in the constellation Cetus it will move rapidly into Pisces heading towards the horizon. It is brightening but is heading into the twilight from mid May. It may peak at magnitude 2.9 on 23 May but from Australia it is lost in the twilight. 
A black and white spotters chart suitable for printing. Click to embiggen and print.

Use with a red-light torch (or a standard torch with red cellophane over it) so as to not disturb your night vision.

Because the comet is a fuzzy dot it will be a bit harder to spot the equivalent brightness stars. Allow at least 5 minutes for your eyes to become dark adapted. 

Unfortunately there are no prominent guide stars to help find it, but it remains within around two binocular fields of Deneb Kaitos/ Diphia (Beta Ceti) for several nights.

The comet is also within a binocular field of dimmer Iota Ceti (about a hand-span north of Beta ceti) between the 4th-6th (and is almost on top of Iota Ceti on the 5th) thereafter it is in a field devoid of good spotter stars until it passes between faint delta and epsilon Pisces on the 10th.

A black and white spotters chart suitable for printing. Click to embiggen and print. The large circles are the approximate field of view of 10x50 binoculars.

Use with a red-light torch (or a standard torch with red cellophane over it) so as to not disturb your night vision.






MPEC one line ephemeris suitable for adding to astronomy programs such as Stellarium
    CK20F080  2020 05 27.3578  0.431538  1.011489   67.6825  260.0610  110.9672  20200531  10.0  4.0      C/2020 F8 (SWAN)


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