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Wednesday, October 15, 2014


Comet C/2012 K1 PanSTARRS, a nice morning binocular comet (October 16-30)

Evening sky on Thursday October 16 looking East as seen from Adelaide at 5:00 (5:00 am) ACDST in South Australia. Comet C/2012 K1 Panstars is below the tail of Canis Major. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).Animation of the path of the comet from 16 to 30 October as it passes through Puppis. It will be around magnitude 7 all this time.

Binocular chart of Comet C/2012 K1 PanSTARRS during October. The large circle is the field of view of 10x50 binoculars. Click to embiggen and print.

Comet C/2012 K1 PanSTARRS is now high enough in the southern morning skies, and the Moon sufficiently past full, to see comet C/2012 K1. It is best observed close to astronomical twilight, as it will be highest in the sky then.

It currently is showing a great double tail. Currently magnitude 6.9, it looks as if it will get no brighter than this during the month.

Binocular scale view  of the comet and NGC 2467 on the morning of the 16th.

The comet is passing through Puppis, coming close to a number of nice clusters which will make for great telescope and binocular viewing.

For most of the week it is not far from the tail of the constellation of Canis Major, the celestial dog in the eastern evening sky.  The bright star Sirius is a handy guide to finding the comet (see charts).

In binoculars the comet should be a small fuzzy ball with the hint of a tail. In small telescopes the tail should be more obvious

On October the 16th it passes 10' from the open cluster Tr9 (mag 8.2) and NGC 2467 (Magnitude 7.1). This will be very nice in binoculars (see the printable B&W chart for more detail).

On the 17th it is within binocular distance of a number of open clusters, including NGC  2483 (mag 7.6) and NGC 2453 (mag 8.3). On the 21st the comet is within 2 degrees of open clusters Cr 132 and Cr 140 (Magnitude 3.5).

On the 23rd the comet is at the edge of  open cluster Cr 139. This will be a difficult observation as the open cluster is very bright (magnitude 2.1).

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