Periodic comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova has now brightened sufficiently that it can be seen with small telescopes in the evening sky towards the west just after sunset. On New Years Day, the comet shone at apparent magnitude +7.1. Although not bright enough to be seen with the naked eye it can be spotted with small/medium size telescopes. However with binoculars it's a challenging object - not because of its magnitude - but due to its low altitude at dusk.

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

The comet remains low down for the first three weeks of January before it disappears behind the Sun for a short time. It then re-emerges in the morning sky during early February before moving rapidly north and passing the Earth at just 0.0843 AU (12.6 million kilometres or 7.8 million miles) on February 11th. From northern latitudes 45P will be well placed during this time although it rapidly fades after "swinging" by Earth.

The illustrations below show the view 45 minutes after sunset towards the west during January from New York City. From other mid-latitude northern locations the view will be similar. Also from southern latitudes the comet appears low down during this time.

Position of comet 45P (Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova) 45 minutes after sunset on January 2, 2017 from New York City (credit:- stellarium/freestarcharts)

Position of comet 45P (Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova) 45 minutes after sunset on January 9, 2017 from New York City (credit:- stellarium/freestarcharts)

Position of comet 45P (Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova) 45 minutes after sunset on January 16, 2017 from New York City (credit:- stellarium/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-Dec-201619h 21m 13s-24d 41m 16s13.21.277Sagittarius
02-Dec-201619h 24m 23s-24d 35m 37s13.01.263Sagittarius
03-Dec-201619h 27m 34s-24d 29m 37s12.71.248Sagittarius
04-Dec-201619h 30m 48s-24d 23m 16s12.51.234Sagittarius
05-Dec-201619h 34m 03s-24d 16m 33s12.31.218Sagittarius
06-Dec-201619h 37m 20s-24d 09m 28s12.11.203Sagittarius
07-Dec-201619h 40m 39s-24d 02m 01s11.81.187Sagittarius
08-Dec-201619h 43m 60s-23d 54m 10s11.61.171Sagittarius
09-Dec-201619h 47m 21s-23d 45m 56s11.41.154Sagittarius
10-Dec-201619h 50m 44s-23d 37m 17s11.11.137Sagittarius
11-Dec-201619h 54m 08s-23d 28m 14s10.91.120Sagittarius
12-Dec-201619h 57m 33s-23d 18m 46s10.61.103Sagittarius
13-Dec-201620h 00m 59s-23d 08m 53s10.41.085Sagittarius
14-Dec-201620h 04m 25s-22d 58m 35s10.21.066Sagittarius
15-Dec-201620h 07m 51s-22d 47m 52s9.91.048Capricornus
16-Dec-201620h 11m 17s-22d 36m 43s9.71.029Capricornus
17-Dec-201620h 14m 42s-22d 25m 10s9.51.010Capricornus
18-Dec-201620h 18m 06s-22d 13m 11s9.20.990Capricornus
19-Dec-201620h 21m 29s-22d 00m 49s9.00.970Capricornus
20-Dec-201620h 24m 51s-21d 48m 02s8.80.950Capricornus
21-Dec-201620h 28m 10s-21d 34m 52s8.60.930Capricornus
22-Dec-201620h 31m 26s-21d 21m 21s8.40.909Capricornus
23-Dec-201620h 34m 39s-21d 07m 28s8.20.888Capricornus
24-Dec-201620h 37m 48s-20d 53m 16s8.00.867Capricornus
25-Dec-201620h 40m 52s-20d 38m 45s7.90.846Capricornus
26-Dec-201620h 43m 52s-20d 23m 57s7.70.824Capricornus
27-Dec-201620h 46m 46s-20d 08m 53s7.60.802Capricornus
28-Dec-201620h 49m 33s-19d 53m 36s7.40.781Capricornus
29-Dec-201620h 52m 13s-19d 38m 06s7.30.759Capricornus
30-Dec-201620h 54m 46s-19d 22m 25s7.20.737Capricornus
31-Dec-201620h 57m 10s-19d 06m 35s7.20.715Capricornus
01-Jan-201720h 59m 25s-18d 50m 36s7.10.694Capricornus
02-Jan-201721h 01m 31s-18d 34m 31s7.10.672Capricornus
03-Jan-201721h 03m 27s-18d 18m 19s7.00.651Capricornus
04-Jan-201721h 05m 13s-18d 02m 01s7.00.629Capricornus
05-Jan-201721h 06m 48s-17d 45m 37s7.00.608Capricornus
06-Jan-201721h 08m 11s-17d 29m 06s7.10.587Capricornus
07-Jan-201721h 09m 24s-17d 12m 29s7.20.567Capricornus
08-Jan-201721h 10m 24s-16d 55m 43s7.10.546Capricornus
09-Jan-201721h 11m 12s-16d 38m 47s7.30.526Capricornus
10-Jan-201721h 11m 47s-16d 21m 38s7.50.506Capricornus
11-Jan-201721h 12m 10s-16d 04m 13s7.50.487Capricornus
12-Jan-201721h 12m 21s-15d 46m 29s7.70.468Capricornus
13-Jan-201721h 12m 18s-15d 28m 21s7.90.449Capricornus
14-Jan-201721h 12m 01s-15d 09m 43s8.00.431Capricornus
15-Jan-201721h 11m 32s-14d 50m 31s8.10.413Capricornus
16-Jan-201721h 10m 48s-14d 30m 36s8.10.396Capricornus
17-Jan-201721h 09m 50s-14d 09m 51s8.20.378Aquarius
18-Jan-201721h 08m 37s-13d 48m 08s8.20.362Aquarius
19-Jan-201721h 07m 09s-13d 25m 15s8.30.345Aquarius
20-Jan-201721h 05m 25s-13d 01m 01s8.30.329Aquarius
21-Jan-201721h 03m 24s-12d 35m 12s8.30.313Aquarius
22-Jan-201721h 01m 04s-12d 07m 32s8.40.298Aquarius
23-Jan-201720h 58m 26s-11d 37m 42s8.40.283Aquarius
24-Jan-201720h 55m 26s-11d 05m 21s8.50.268Aquarius
25-Jan-201720h 52m 04s-10d 30m 02s8.50.254Aquarius
26-Jan-201720h 48m 15s-09d 51m 16s8.50.239Aquarius
27-Jan-201720h 43m 59s-09d 08m 25s8.60.226Aquarius
28-Jan-201720h 39m 09s-08d 20m 45s8.60.212Aquarius
29-Jan-201720h 33m 43s-07d 27m 23s8.70.199Aquila
30-Jan-201720h 27m 34s-06d 27m 14s8.70.186Aquila
31-Jan-201720h 20m 35s-05d 18m 58s8.70.174Aquila
01-Feb-201720h 12m 36s-04d 01m 01s8.80.162Aquila
02-Feb-201720h 03m 27s-02d 31m 24s8.80.150Aquila
03-Feb-201719h 52m 53s-00d 47m 52s8.90.139Aquila
04-Feb-201719h 40m 37s01d 12m 15s8.90.128Aquila
05-Feb-201719h 26m 17s03d 31m 49s8.90.118Aquila
06-Feb-201719h 09m 27s06d 13m 31s9.00.109Aquila
07-Feb-201718h 49m 37s09d 19m 08s9.00.101Aquila
08-Feb-201718h 26m 16s12d 48m 06s9.10.094Hercules
09-Feb-201717h 58m 58s16d 35m 36s9.10.089Hercules
10-Feb-201717h 27m 34s20d 30m 41s9.20.085Hercules
11-Feb-201716h 52m 27s24d 16m 15s9.30.083Hercules
12-Feb-201716h 14m 43s27d 32m 44s9.50.084Corona Borealis
13-Feb-201715h 36m 12s30d 04m 43s9.70.086Corona Borealis
14-Feb-201714h 58m 55s31d 46m 26s10.00.090Boötes
15-Feb-201714h 24m 33s32d 41m 58s10.30.096Boötes
16-Feb-201713h 54m 04s33d 01m 15s10.60.103Canes Venatici
17-Feb-201713h 27m 42s32d 55m 21s10.90.112Canes Venatici
18-Feb-201713h 05m 11s32d 33m 38s11.20.121Canes Venatici
19-Feb-201712h 46m 05s32d 02m 57s11.60.131Canes Venatici
20-Feb-201712h 29m 52s31d 27m 51s11.90.141Canes Venatici
21-Feb-201712h 16m 03s30d 51m 10s12.20.152Coma Berenices
22-Feb-201712h 04m 12s30d 14m 36s12.50.164Ursa Major
23-Feb-201711h 53m 59s29d 39m 07s12.80.176Ursa Major
24-Feb-201711h 45m 07s29d 05m 10s13.10.188Ursa Major
25-Feb-201711h 37m 22s28d 32m 58s13.30.200Ursa Major
26-Feb-201711h 30m 33s28d 02m 36s13.60.213Leo
27-Feb-201711h 24m 32s27d 33m 59s13.90.226Leo
28-Feb-201711h 19m 11s27d 07m 02s14.10.239Leo

See also
Now is the last good chance to see comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova before it dramatically fades
How to see comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova in the February morning sky. Will pass close by Earth on the 11th.


Sky Highlights - September 2017

Opposition
Neptune reaches opposition on September 5th

The Planets
This Month's Guide

Algol Minima
Algol eclipse dates and times for September

Northern Hemisphere
Evening
West:- Jupiter (mag. -1.7)
Southwest:- Saturn (mag. +0.5)
East:- Neptune (mag. +7.8)
Midnight
South:- Neptune
East:- Uranus (mag. +5.7)
Morning
West:- Neptune
South:- Uranus
East:- Venus (mag. -3.9), Mars (mag. +1.8) (from second week), Mercury (mag. +0.5 to -1.3) (from second week)

Southern Hemisphere
Evening
West:- Jupiter
Northwest:- Saturn
East:- Neptune
Midnight
West:- Saturn
North:- Neptune
Northeast:- Uranus
Morning
West:- Neptune
Northwest:- Uranus
Northeast:- Venus
East:- Mars (end of month)

Deep Sky

Small telescopes:-
Messier 13 - M13 - Great Hercules Globular Cluster
Messier 92 - M92 - Globular Cluster
Messier 11 - M11 - The Wild Duck Cluster (Open Cluster)
Messier 7 - M7 - The Ptolemy Cluster (Open Cluster)
Messier 6 - M6 - The Butterfly Cluster (Open Cluster)
Messier 4 - M4 - Globular Cluster
Messier 8 - M8 - Lagoon Nebula (Emission Nebula)
Messier 16 - M16 - Eagle Nebula (Emission Nebula with Open Cluster)
Messier 20 - M20 - Trifid Nebula (Emission and Reflection Nebula)

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