At the start of the year, periodic comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova was visible as an early evening object, low down at dusk above the western horizon. During February, it re-emerges in the morning sky and this time is much better placed for northern-based observers.

45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova as imaged on October 1, 2011 (credit:- Martin Mobberley - www.martinmobberley.co.uk)

The comet is visible from about February 4th as it moves swiftly northwards. It starts the month in Aquila, then passes through Hercules, Corona Borealis, Boötes, Canes Venatici, Coma Berenices, Ursa Major and finally ends the month in Leo. The rapid movement results from its close proximity to Earth. On February 11th, it passes the Earth at just 0.0843 AU, equal to 12.6 million kilometres or 7.8 million miles. It could then be as bright as mag. +6.2 and easily within binocular range. Unfortunately, the Moon will be full on the day of closest approach, although it's located in the opposite part of the sky. From northern latitudes, 45P will be well placed high towards the east before sunrise. After "swinging" by Earth it then rapidly fades in brightness. The comet is also visible from southern latitudes, but appears much lower down.

The charts below show the position of 45P between February 4th and 16th, 2017.

Positions of comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova from February 4th to 9th (credit - freestarcharts)

Positions of comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova from February 4th to 9th - pdf format (credit:- freestarcharts)

Positions of comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova from February 9th to 12th (credit - freestarcharts)

Positions of comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova from February 9th to 12th - pdf format (credit:- freestarcharts)

Positions of comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova from February 12th to 16th (credit - freestarcharts)

Positions of comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova from February 12th to 16th - pdf format (credit:- freestarcharts)

45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova data (at epoch January 7, 2017)

Name45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova
TypeComet
DiscovererMinoru Honda
Discovery dateDecember 3, 1948
Perihelion0.5296
Aphelion5.511
Semi-major axis (AU)3.0205
Eccentricity0.8246
Orbital period5.25
Inclination (degrees) 4.257
Perihelion December 31, 2016

45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova Data Table

DateRight AscensionDeclinationMag.Distance from Earth (AU)Constellation
01-Jan-201720h 59m 25s-18d 50m 36s6.80.694Capricornus
02-Jan-201721h 01m 31s-18d 34m 31s6.80.672Capricornus
03-Jan-201721h 03m 27s-18d 18m 19s6.70.651Capricornus
04-Jan-201721h 05m 13s-18d 02m 01s6.70.629Capricornus
05-Jan-201721h 06m 48s-17d 45m 37s6.60.608Capricornus
06-Jan-201721h 08m 11s-17d 29m 06s6.60.587Capricornus
07-Jan-201721h 09m 24s-17d 12m 29s6.50.567Capricornus
08-Jan-201721h 10m 24s-16d 55m 43s6.50.546Capricornus
09-Jan-201721h 11m 12s-16d 38m 47s6.50.526Capricornus
10-Jan-201721h 11m 47s-16d 21m 38s6.40.506Capricornus
11-Jan-201721h 12m 10s-16d 04m 13s6.40.487Capricornus
12-Jan-201721h 12m 21s-15d 46m 29s6.40.468Capricornus
13-Jan-201721h 12m 18s-15d 28m 21s6.50.449Capricornus
14-Jan-201721h 12m 01s-15d 09m 43s6.50.431Capricornus
15-Jan-201721h 11m 32s-14d 50m 31s6.50.413Capricornus
16-Jan-201721h 10m 48s-14d 30m 36s6.50.396Capricornus
17-Jan-201721h 09m 50s-14d 09m 51s6.50.378Aquarius
18-Jan-201721h 08m 37s-13d 48m 08s6.50.362Aquarius
19-Jan-201721h 07m 09s-13d 25m 15s6.60.345Aquarius
20-Jan-201721h 05m 25s-13d 01m 01s6.60.329Aquarius
21-Jan-201721h 03m 24s-12d 35m 12s6.60.313Aquarius
22-Jan-201721h 01m 04s-12d 07m 32s6.60.298Aquarius
23-Jan-201720h 58m 26s-11d 37m 42s6.60.283Aquarius
24-Jan-201720h 55m 26s-11d 05m 21s6.70.268Aquarius
25-Jan-201720h 52m 04s-10d 30m 02s6.70.254Aquarius
26-Jan-201720h 48m 15s-09d 51m 16s6.70.239Aquarius
27-Jan-201720h 43m 59s-09d 08m 25s6.70.226Aquarius
28-Jan-201720h 39m 09s-08d 20m 45s6.80.212Aquarius
29-Jan-201720h 33m 43s-07d 27m 23s6.80.199Aquila
30-Jan-201720h 27m 34s-06d 27m 14s6.80.186Aquila
31-Jan-201720h 20m 35s-05d 18m 58s6.80.174Aquila
01-Feb-201720h 12m 36s-04d 01m 01s6.80.162Aquila
02-Feb-201720h 03m 27s-02d 31m 24s6.80.150Aquila
03-Feb-201719h 52m 53s-00d 47m 52s6.70.139Aquila
04-Feb-201719h 40m 37s01d 12m 15s6.70.128Aquila
05-Feb-201719h 26m 17s03d 31m 49s6.60.118Aquila
06-Feb-201719h 09m 27s06d 13m 31s6.50.109Aquila
07-Feb-201718h 49m 37s09d 19m 08s6.40.101Aquila
08-Feb-201718h 26m 16s12d 48m 06s6.30.094Hercules
09-Feb-201717h 58m 58s16d 35m 36s6.20.089Hercules
10-Feb-201717h 27m 34s20d 30m 41s6.20.085Hercules
11-Feb-201716h 52m 27s24d 16m 15s6.20.083Hercules
12-Feb-201716h 14m 43s27d 32m 44s6.20.084Corona Borealis
13-Feb-201715h 36m 12s30d 04m 43s6.30.086Corona Borealis
14-Feb-201714h 58m 55s31d 46m 26s6.40.090Boötes
15-Feb-201714h 24m 33s32d 41m 58s6.60.096Boötes
16-Feb-201713h 54m 04s33d 01m 15s6.80.103Canes Venatici
17-Feb-201713h 27m 42s32d 55m 21s7.00.112Canes Venatici
18-Feb-201713h 05m 11s32d 33m 38s7.20.121Canes Venatici
19-Feb-201712h 46m 05s32d 02m 57s7.40.131Canes Venatici
20-Feb-201712h 29m 52s31d 27m 51s7.70.141Canes Venatici
21-Feb-201712h 16m 03s30d 51m 10s8.00.152Coma Berenices
22-Feb-201712h 04m 12s30d 14m 36s8.30.164Ursa Major
23-Feb-201711h 53m 59s29d 39m 07s8.60.176Ursa Major
24-Feb-201711h 45m 07s29d 05m 10s8.90.188Ursa Major
25-Feb-201711h 37m 22s28d 32m 58s9.40.200Ursa Major
26-Feb-201711h 30m 33s28d 02m 36s9.70.213Leo
27-Feb-201711h 24m 32s27d 33m 59s10.00.226Leo
28-Feb-201711h 19m 11s27d 07m 02s10.60.239Leo

See also
Now is the last good chance to see comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova before it dramatically fades
Comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova now visible with small telescopes


Sky Highlights - February 2017

Comets
Comet Encke (2P/Encke) now visible in the western sky during evening twilight
Now is the last good chance to see comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova before it dramatically fades

Conjunction
Mars passes less than 1 degree north of Uranus on February 27th

Minor Planet
Vesta now visible with binoculars and small telescopes.

The Planets
This Month's Guide

Algol Minima
Algol eclipse dates and times for February 2017

Northern Hemisphere
Evening
Southwest:- Venus (mag. -4.8), Mars (mag. +1.1 to +1.3), Uranus (mag. +5.9)
Midnight
East:- Jupiter (mag. -2.1 to -2.3)
Morning
South:- Jupiter
Southeast:- Saturn (mag. +0.6)

Southern Hemisphere
Evening
West:- Venus, Mars, Uranus
Midnight
East:- Jupiter
Morning
North:- Jupiter
East:- Saturn, Mercury (mag. -0.2 - first half of month)

Deep Sky
Naked eye / binoculars:-
Messier 45 - M45 - The Pleiades (Open Cluster)
The Hyades - Open Cluster
Messier 44 - M44 - The Praesepe (Open Cluster)
Messier 35 - M35 - Open Cluster
Messier 42 - M42 - The Great Orion Nebula (Emission/Reflection)

Small telescopes:-
Messier 36 - M36 - Open Cluster
Messier 37 - M37 - Open Cluster
Messier 38 - M38 - Open Cluster

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Current Moon Phase

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