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Observers located at equatorial and southern latitudes have the chance to spot a reasonably bright comet after sunset during the second half of July and into August. The comet named PanSTARRS (C/2014 Q1) is now fading but should remain bright enough to be visible with binoculars and small telescopes for sometime to come. Unfortunately, for Northern based observers it's not observable.

Comet C/2014 Q1 PanSTARRS on May 26, 2015 (M. Mattiazzo)

Discovery

Comet PanSTARRS was discovered on August 16, 2014 using the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (Pan-STARRS) located on the island of Maui in Hawaii. At discovery the comet shone at a feeble magnitude +18.4.

The Pan-STARRS project is in its infancy and eventually it's planned to use an array of four 1.8m astronomical telescopes to survey the sky continuously in the hunt for moving objects. Despite funding problems and only one of the four telescopes currently up and running, the project is producing great results and when more of the telescopes come online, a flurry of asteroid and comet discoveries should occur.

Comet PanSTARRS has a highly eccentric orbit and originates from the Oort Cloud. Its orbital period is approximately 40,000 years.

Location and star chart

Having past perihelion on July 6th, PanSTARRS climbed quickly away from the Sun as it moves from Cancer into Leo. It became visible very low down in the evening twilight sky from about July 15th and passes close to brilliant Venus and bright Jupiter during the following week. At magnitude +6, PanSTARRS is much fainter than the two planets but is visible with binoculars and small scopes. On the evening of July 18th the thin crescent Moon forms a lovely evening grouping with Venus, Jupiter and PanSTARRS.

The comet then climbs higher in the evening sky but at the same time fading as it travels on a southerly path into Sextans. It then briefly cuts a corner of Hydra before entering Crater, back into Hydra and finally to Centaurus where it remains until October.

The finder charts below show the positions of the comet from July 18th to August 8th, 2015.

Comet PanSTARRS (C/2014 Q1) Finder Chart from July 18th to July 26th, 2015

Comet PanSTARRS (C/2014 Q1) Finder Chart from July 18th to July 26th, 2015 - pdf format

Comet PanSTARRS (C/2014 Q1) Finder Chart from July 25th to August 8th, 2015

Comet PanSTARRS (C/2014 Q1) Finder Chart from July 25th to August 8th, 2015 - pdf format

C/2014 Q1 (PanSTARRS) Data (at epoch June 27, 2015)

NameC/2014 Q1 (PanSTARRS)
TypeComet
DiscovererPan-STARRS telescope
Discovery dateAugust 16, 2014
Perihelion (AU)0.31456
Eccentricity0.99969
Orbital period (years)~40,000
Inclination (degrees) 43.1084
Longitude of ascending node (degrees)8.7622
Perihelion July 6th, 2015

(C2014/Q1) PanSTARRS Data Table

DateRight AscensionDeclinationMag.Distance from Earth (AU)Constellation
01-Jul-201506h 27m 59s33d 57m 08s5.01.297Auriga
02-Jul-201506h 40m 05s33d 37m 03s4.91.288Auriga
03-Jul-201506h 52m 13s33d 08m 43s4.71.280Gemini
04-Jul-201507h 04m 20s32d 31m 50s4.61.271Gemini
05-Jul-201507h 16m 19s31d 46m 17s4.51.263Gemini
06-Jul-201507h 28m 04s30d 52m 10s4.51.255Gemini
07-Jul-201507h 39m 30s29d 49m 56s4.51.247Gemini
08-Jul-201507h 50m 33s28d 40m 12s4.51.239Gemini
09-Jul-201508h 01m 09s27d 23m 49s4.51.231Cancer
10-Jul-201508h 11m 16s26d 01m 44s4.61.223Cancer
11-Jul-201508h 20m 53s24d 34m 55s4.71.216Cancer
12-Jul-201508h 30m 02s23d 04m 20s4.91.209Cancer
13-Jul-201508h 38m 44s21d 30m 51s5.01.203Cancer
14-Jul-201508h 46m 59s19d 55m 14s5.21.197Cancer
15-Jul-201508h 54m 50s18d 18m 09s5.31.193Cancer
16-Jul-201509h 02m 20s16d 40m 09s5.51.189Cancer
17-Jul-201509h 09m 30s15d 01m 43s5.71.186Cancer
18-Jul-201509h 16m 22s13d 23m 15s5.91.184Cancer
19-Jul-201509h 22m 57s11d 45m 06s6.01.183Leo
20-Jul-201509h 29m 19s10d 07m 31s6.21.183Leo
21-Jul-201509h 35m 26s08d 30m 46s6.31.184Leo
22-Jul-201509h 41m 22s06d 55m 02s6.51.186Leo
23-Jul-201509h 47m 08s05d 20m 29s6.71.189Sextans
24-Jul-201509h 52m 43s03d 47m 17s6.81.192Sextans
25-Jul-201509h 58m 09s02d 15m 33s7.01.197Sextans
26-Jul-201510h 03m 28s00d 45m 23s7.11.202Sextans
27-Jul-201510h 08m 39s-00d 43m 09s7.31.208Sextans
28-Jul-201510h 13m 43s-02d 09m 57s7.41.215Sextans
29-Jul-201510h 18m 40s-03d 34m 58s7.51.222Sextans
30-Jul-201510h 23m 32s-04d 58m 10s7.71.230Sextans
31-Jul-201510h 28m 18s-06d 19m 30s7.81.239Sextans
01-Aug-201510h 32m 60s-07d 38m 58s7.91.249Sextans
02-Aug-201510h 37m 37s-08d 56m 32s8.01.259Sextans
03-Aug-201510h 42m 09s-10d 12m 12s8.21.270Sextans
04-Aug-201510h 46m 37s-11d 25m 59s8.31.281Sextans
05-Aug-201510h 51m 02s-12d 37m 52s8.41.293Hydra
06-Aug-201510h 55m 23s-13d 47m 53s8.51.306Crater
07-Aug-201510h 59m 41s-14d 56m 03s8.61.319Crater
08-Aug-201511h 03m 55s-16d 02m 23s8.81.332Crater
09-Aug-201511h 08m 07s-17d 06m 54s8.91.346Crater
10-Aug-201511h 12m 15s-18d 09m 40s9.01.361Crater
11-Aug-201511h 16m 21s-19d 10m 41s9.11.376Crater
12-Aug-201511h 20m 25s-20d 10m 00s9.21.391Crater
13-Aug-201511h 24m 26s-21d 07m 40s9.31.406Crater
14-Aug-201511h 28m 25s-22d 03m 41s9.41.422Crater
15-Aug-201511h 32m 21s-22d 58m 08s9.51.439Crater
16-Aug-201511h 36m 16s-23d 51m 02s9.61.455Crater
17-Aug-201511h 40m 08s-24d 42m 25s9.71.472Crater
18-Aug-201511h 43m 59s-25d 32m 21s9.81.489Hydra
19-Aug-201511h 47m 47s-26d 20m 52s9.91.507Hydra
20-Aug-201511h 51m 34s-27d 07m 59s10.01.524Hydra
21-Aug-201511h 55m 19s-27d 53m 46s10.11.542Hydra
22-Aug-201511h 59m 03s-28d 38m 15s10.11.560Hydra
23-Aug-201512h 02m 45s-29d 21m 28s10.21.579Hydra
24-Aug-201512h 06m 25s-30d 03m 27s10.31.597Hydra
25-Aug-201512h 10m 04s-30d 44m 16s10.41.616Hydra
26-Aug-201512h 13m 41s-31d 23m 55s10.51.635Hydra
27-Aug-201512h 17m 17s-32d 02m 28s10.61.654Hydra
28-Aug-201512h 20m 52s-32d 39m 56s10.61.674Hydra
29-Aug-201512h 24m 25s-33d 16m 21s10.71.693Hydra
30-Aug-201512h 27m 57s-33d 51m 46s10.81.713Centaurus
31-Aug-201512h 31m 28s-34d 26m 12s10.91.732Centaurus
01-Sep-201512h 34m 58s-34d 59m 41s11.01.752Centaurus
02-Sep-201512h 38m 26s-35d 32m 15s11.01.772Centaurus
03-Sep-201512h 41m 54s-36d 03m 56s11.11.793Centaurus
04-Sep-201512h 45m 20s-36d 34m 46s11.21.813Centaurus
05-Sep-201512h 48m 45s-37d 04m 46s11.31.833Centaurus
06-Sep-201512h 52m 09s-37d 33m 57s11.31.854Centaurus
07-Sep-201512h 55m 33s-38d 02m 22s11.41.874Centaurus
08-Sep-201512h 58m 55s-38d 30m 03s11.51.895Centaurus
09-Sep-201513h 02m 16s-38d 56m 59s11.51.916Centaurus
10-Sep-201513h 05m 37s-39d 23m 14s11.61.936Centaurus
11-Sep-201513h 08m 56s-39d 48m 47s11.71.957Centaurus
12-Sep-201513h 12m 15s-40d 13m 41s11.71.978Centaurus
13-Sep-201513h 15m 33s-40d 37m 57s11.81.999Centaurus
14-Sep-201513h 18m 49s-41d 01m 36s11.92.020Centaurus
15-Sep-201513h 22m 06s-41d 24m 39s11.92.041Centaurus
16-Sep-201513h 25m 21s-41d 47m 07s12.02.062Centaurus
17-Sep-201513h 28m 35s-42d 09m 01s12.12.084Centaurus
18-Sep-201513h 31m 49s-42d 30m 23s12.12.105Centaurus
19-Sep-201513h 35m 02s-42d 51m 13s12.22.126Centaurus
20-Sep-201513h 38m 14s-43d 11m 32s12.32.147Centaurus
21-Sep-201513h 41m 26s-43d 31m 22s12.32.168Centaurus
22-Sep-201513h 44m 36s-43d 50m 42s12.42.190Centaurus
23-Sep-201513h 47m 46s-44d 09m 34s12.42.211Centaurus
24-Sep-201513h 50m 55s-44d 27m 59s12.52.232Centaurus
25-Sep-201513h 54m 04s-44d 45m 58s12.52.253Centaurus
26-Sep-201513h 57m 12s-45d 03m 30s12.62.275Centaurus
27-Sep-201514h 00m 19s-45d 20m 38s12.72.296Centaurus
28-Sep-201514h 03m 26s-45d 37m 21s12.72.317Centaurus
29-Sep-201514h 06m 31s-45d 53m 41s12.82.339Centaurus
30-Sep-201514h 09m 37s-46d 09m 37s12.82.360Centaurus
01-Oct-201514h 12m 41s-46d 25m 11s12.92.381Centaurus
02-Oct-201514h 15m 45s-46d 40m 24s12.92.402Centaurus
03-Oct-201514h 18m 49s-46d 55m 15s13.02.424Lupus
04-Oct-201514h 21m 51s-47d 09m 46s13.02.445Lupus
05-Oct-201514h 24m 54s-47d 23m 57s13.12.466Lupus
06-Oct-201514h 27m 55s-47d 37m 48s13.12.487Lupus
07-Oct-201514h 30m 56s-47d 51m 21s13.22.508Lupus
08-Oct-201514h 33m 57s-48d 04m 35s13.22.529Lupus
09-Oct-201514h 36m 57s-48d 17m 31s13.32.550Lupus
10-Oct-201514h 39m 56s-48d 30m 10s13.32.571Lupus
11-Oct-201514h 42m 55s-48d 42m 32s13.42.592Lupus
12-Oct-201514h 45m 53s-48d 54m 37s13.42.613Lupus
13-Oct-201514h 48m 51s-49d 06m 26s13.52.634Lupus
14-Oct-201514h 51m 48s-49d 18m 00s13.52.655Lupus
15-Oct-201514h 54m 45s-49d 29m 18s13.62.676Lupus
16-Oct-201514h 57m 41s-49d 40m 22s13.62.696Lupus
17-Oct-201515h 00m 36s-49d 51m 10s13.62.717Lupus
18-Oct-201515h 03m 31s-50d 01m 45s13.72.738Lupus
19-Oct-201515h 06m 26s-50d 12m 06s13.72.758Lupus
20-Oct-201515h 09m 20s-50d 22m 13s13.82.779Lupus
21-Oct-201515h 12m 13s-50d 32m 07s13.82.799Lupus
22-Oct-201515h 15m 06s-50d 41m 48s13.92.819Lupus
23-Oct-201515h 17m 59s-50d 51m 16s13.92.839Lupus
24-Oct-201515h 20m 51s-51d 00m 32s13.92.860Lupus
25-Oct-201515h 23m 42s-51d 09m 36s14.02.880Lupus
26-Oct-201515h 26m 33s-51d 18m 29s14.02.900Lupus
27-Oct-201515h 29m 23s-51d 27m 09s14.12.920Norma
28-Oct-201515h 32m 13s-51d 35m 38s14.12.939Norma
29-Oct-201515h 35m 02s-51d 43m 57s14.12.959Norma
30-Oct-201515h 37m 51s-51d 52m 04s14.22.979Norma
31-Oct-201515h 40m 39s-52d 00m 01s14.22.999Norma