Wednesday, April 05, 2017
Comet C/2015 ER61 PanSTARRS is in outburst, seeing it from Australia
Another comet has just dramatically brightened, unlike C/2017 E4 Lovejoy this time the comet favours us in the southern hemisphere.
Comet C/2015 ER61 is confirmed to be in outburst, with reports of magnitudes between 7.4 and 6.5, up from a pre-outburst level of 8.4.
This means that the comet should be readily visible in binoculars in the early morning sky, and a good target for southern amateurs who can get up before dawn.
Some nice pre-post image comparisons are here
http://cometografia.es/2015er61-panstarrs-20170404/ and here https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=438805123125824&set=gm.488200124683788&type=3&theater
comet C/2015 ER61 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 5:06 ACST (90 minutes before the sun rises). Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia (and most of the southern hemisphere) at the equivalent local time (90 minutes before the sun rises). Click to embiggen and print.
The comet is high enough above the morning horizon to be visible from around two and a half hours before sunrise ot 90 minutes before sunrise (astronomical twilight) after this the brightening skies will make to comet difficult to see.
The comet is realtively easy to find, being almost exactly between the bright stars Altair and Fomalhaut, the two brightest stars in the eastern morning sky, on the border between Capricorius and Aquarius. Currently the comet is is between the moderately bright stars theta (𝛩) Capriconii and epsilon (𝜖) Aqaurii. The comet will track down the Aquarius/Capricornii border with plenty of good guide stars (see binocular chart above). It should be a reasonable target for the rest of the month.
The comet is within wide field view of globular cluster M72 and open cluster M73 over the next two days, and the Saturn Nebula on the 9th.So this should be good for telescopic observation.