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Comet Catalina is currently the brightest comet in the sky and remains well placed for observation from northern latitudes throughout December and into the New Year. It was originally predicted that we would now have a naked eye object but unfortunately that hasn't happened; its brightening slowed down significantly in September and now seems certain that it will peak at least 5 times fainter than hoped. Nevertheless, Catalina can be still be seen with binoculars / small telescopes and should remain so for many weeks to come.

Comet Catalina on August 10, 2015 (credit - Kenny Astrom/Siding Spring)

Location and star chart

From northern latitudes Catalina is visible towards the east before sunrise. It's currently moving directly northwards with Venus, Mars, Jupiter and bright stars Arcturus and Spica nearby. Orange giant Arcturus at magnitude -0.04 is the fourth brightest star in the night sky and Catalina will pass within one degree of it on New Years Day. From southern latitudes the comet is now hardly observable.

Comet Catalina two hours sunrise from mid northern temperate latitudes on December 25, 2015 (credit:- Stellarium)

On January 17th, Catalina approaches to within 0.72 AU or 108 million kilometres (67 million miles) of Earth. The finder charts below show the positions of Catalina from November 18th to January 1st.

Comet Catalina (C/2013 US10) Finder Chart from December 18th, 2015 to January 1st, 2016 (credit:- freestarcharts)

Comet Comet Catalina (C/2013 US10) Finder Chart from December 18th, 2015 to January 1st, 2016 - pdf format (credit:- freestarcharts)

Comet Catalina (C/2013 US10) Finder Chart from November 18th to December 18th, 2015 (credit:- freestarcharts)

Comet Catalina (C/2013 US10) Finder Chart from November 18th to December 18th, 2015 - pdf format (credit:- freestarcharts)

C/2013 US10 (Catalina) Data (at epoch November 15, 2014)

NameC/2013 US10 (Catalina)
DiscovererCatalina Sky Survey
Discovery dateOctober 31, 2013
Perihelion (AU)0.82290
Orbital period (years)unknown
Inclination (degrees) 148.8733
Longitude of ascending node (degrees)186.1371
Perihelion November 15th, 2015

(C2013/US10) Catalina Data Table

01-Dec-201514h 19m 01s-11d 28m 09s6.61.534Virgo
02-Dec-201514h 18m 54s-10d 53m 38s6.61.516Virgo
03-Dec-201514h 18m 46s-10d 18m 22s6.61.498Virgo
04-Dec-201514h 18m 39s-09d 42m 17s6.61.480Virgo
05-Dec-201514h 18m 33s-09d 05m 19s6.61.461Virgo
06-Dec-201514h 18m 26s-08d 27m 26s6.61.441Virgo
07-Dec-201514h 18m 20s-07d 48m 34s6.61.422Virgo
08-Dec-201514h 18m 15s-07d 08m 40s6.61.402Virgo
09-Dec-201514h 18m 09s-06d 27m 38s6.61.381Virgo
10-Dec-201514h 18m 04s-05d 45m 26s6.61.361Virgo
11-Dec-201514h 17m 59s-05d 01m 57s6.61.340Virgo
12-Dec-201514h 17m 54s-04d 17m 08s6.61.319Virgo
13-Dec-201514h 17m 49s-03d 30m 53s6.61.298Virgo
14-Dec-201514h 17m 44s-02d 43m 06s6.61.277Virgo
15-Dec-201514h 17m 39s-01d 53m 42s6.61.255Virgo
16-Dec-201514h 17m 34s-01d 02m 34s6.61.234Virgo
17-Dec-201514h 17m 28s-00d 09m 36s6.51.212Virgo
18-Dec-201514h 17m 22s00d 45m 20s6.51.190Virgo
19-Dec-201514h 17m 15s01d 42m 21s6.51.168Virgo
20-Dec-201514h 17m 08s02d 41m 35s6.51.147Virgo
21-Dec-201514h 17m 00s03d 43m 10s6.51.125Virgo
22-Dec-201514h 16m 52s04d 47m 15s6.51.103Virgo
23-Dec-201514h 16m 42s05d 53m 59s6.51.082Virgo
24-Dec-201514h 16m 31s07d 03m 32s6.51.060Virgo
25-Dec-201514h 16m 19s08d 16m 03s6.51.039Boötes
26-Dec-201514h 16m 05s09d 31m 44s6.51.018Boötes
27-Dec-201514h 15m 50s10d 50m 43s6.40.997Boötes
28-Dec-201514h 15m 33s12d 13m 14s6.40.976Boötes
29-Dec-201514h 15m 13s13d 39m 25s6.40.956Boötes
30-Dec-201514h 14m 52s15d 09m 29s6.40.936Boötes
31-Dec-201514h 14m 27s16d 43m 35s6.40.917Boötes
01-Jan-201614h 13m 59s18d 21m 48s6.40.898Boötes
02-Jan-201614h 13m 28s20d 04m 29s6.40.880Boötes
03-Jan-201614h 12m 53s21d 51m 41s6.40.863Boötes
04-Jan-201614h 12m 13s23d 43m 30s6.30.846Boötes
05-Jan-201614h 11m 28s25d 40m 01s6.30.830Boötes
06-Jan-201614h 10m 37s27d 41m 18s6.30.815Boötes
07-Jan-201614h 09m 40s29d 47m 20s6.30.800Boötes
08-Jan-201614h 08m 35s31d 58m 03s6.30.787Boötes
09-Jan-201614h 07m 22s34d 13m 22s6.30.775Canes Venatici
10-Jan-201614h 05m 59s36d 33m 03s6.30.764Canes Venatici
11-Jan-201614h 04m 24s38d 56m 52s6.30.754Canes Venatici
12-Jan-201614h 02m 36s41d 24m 25s6.30.746Canes Venatici
13-Jan-201614h 00m 32s43d 55m 16s6.30.738Canes Venatici
14-Jan-201613h 58m 11s46d 28m 54s6.30.733Canes Venatici
15-Jan-201613h 55m 28s49d 04m 41s6.30.729Ursa Major
16-Jan-201613h 52m 21s51d 41m 54s6.40.726Ursa Major
17-Jan-201613h 48m 43s54d 19m 49s6.40.725Ursa Major
18-Jan-201613h 44m 28s56d 57m 34s6.40.725Ursa Major
19-Jan-201613h 39m 30s59d 34m 18s6.50.727Ursa Major
20-Jan-201613h 33m 36s62d 09m 04s6.50.731Ursa Major
21-Jan-201613h 26m 34s64d 40m 54s6.50.736Draco
22-Jan-201613h 18m 05s67d 08m 46s6.60.743Draco
23-Jan-201613h 07m 46s69d 31m 34s6.60.751Ursa Minor
24-Jan-201612h 55m 03s71d 48m 02s6.70.761Draco
25-Jan-201612h 39m 12s73d 56m 43s6.70.772Draco
26-Jan-201612h 19m 14s75d 55m 44s6.70.785Draco
27-Jan-201611h 53m 53s77d 42m 41s6.80.799Camelopardalis
28-Jan-201611h 21m 47s79d 14m 21s6.80.814Draco
29-Jan-201610h 41m 53s80d 26m 41s6.80.830Draco
30-Jan-201609h 54m 33s81d 15m 18s6.90.848Draco
31-Jan-201609h 02m 43s81d 37m 01s6.90.866Camelopardalis

See also

Comet Catalina (C/2013 US10) moves past Kemble's Cascade during the last week of February 2016. Visible with binoculars and small telescopes from northern and tropical latitudes.
Comet Catalina (C/2013 US10) now fading as it recedes from Earth. Currently moving through the far northern constellations. Remains visible with binoculars and small telescopes.
Comet Catalina (C/2013 US10) remains visible with binoculars and small telescopes at it moves northwards. This month offers the last good chance to catch a glimpse before it fades significantly.
Catalina (C/2013 US10) an early morning binocular and small telescope comet
Comet Catalina (C/2013 US10) edges towards naked eye visibility
Comet Catalina (C/2013 US10) remains visible in the evening from Southern and Equatorial Latitudes during September 2015
Comet Catalina (C/2013 US10) now visible with binoculars from Southern and Equatorial Latitudes