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Sun, 10 Jan 2016 - Comet CATALINA past its best..?

If you haven't managed to see or photograph Comet CATALINA US10 yet, you really do need to try at the next opportunity; reports from many observers suggest that the comet is fading now, or at least not getting any brighter. One respected observer, Neil Norman, even went so far as to say the comet is "going out like a light".

This graph, taken from Seiichi Yoshida's comet information page (link at end of post - you should bookmark it, it's very useful) shows how the brightness of CATALINA has changed. Each black dot represents an observation, and magnitude estimate, made by a comet observer somewhere, and you can see that CATALINA has now slipped off the curve of its predicted brightness and has "levelled out". It's not impossible that it might climb up in brightness again, but it is very, very unlikely...

 

 

For those of us with modest equipment who have enjoyed looking at and photographing CATALINA over the past couple of months or so - losing huge amounts of sleep in the process! - this is disappointing, and frustrating, but not unusual, and not entirely unexpected either; before it even wafted up into the northern sky, some experienced comet observers were predicting it would behave in exactly the way it has done, i.e. not quite reaching naked eye brightness before levelling out and then fading.

So, if you're blessed with a gap in the clouds over the next few nights, take a look at CATALINA because chances are it won't get any better than it is now. Here's a reminder of where to look...

 

  

 

It's still visible in small telescopes and binoculars, but maybe not for much longer...

 

Added by: Stuart Atkinson