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Comet Catalina continues to brighten during October but as has been for sometime now essentially remains a Southern Hemisphere object. For the past few months it's been slowly moving against the background "fixed" stars and by the middle of September had reached magnitude +6.3, easily within binocular and small telescope range. The comet currently appears fairly high in the sky during early evening from mid-temperate latitudes such as Sydney, Cape Town and Buenos Aires. Although lower down observers in the tropics can also spot it.

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

As it heads towards a November 15, 2015 perihelion date, Catalina is likely to brighten enough to be visible to the naked eye. Current predictions put the peak magnitude at about 4. However, comets are notoriously unpredictable and it may just fizzle out or brighter spectacularly so keep watching as you never quite know! Even taking the worst-case scenario its likely Catalina will be visible through binoculars for a few weeks to come.

Catalina Sky Survey

Comet Catalina was discovered by R. A. Kowalski of the Catalina Sky Survey on October 31, 2013. The Catalina Sky Survey (CSS) is a project based at the University of Arizona that searches for potentially hazardous asteroids that could impact the Earth. It utilizes 3 large telescopes to image the sky almost every clear night, except around full Moon, in the hunt for near-Earth objects (NEOs). To date the project had discovered hundreds of asteroids and comets.

Location and star chart

During September and October, Catalina is visible towards the west after sunset as soon as it's dark enough from southern locations. On September 22nd, it's positioned 5 degrees north of α Lup (mag. +2.3) in the constellation of Lupus. To the northeast of Catalina are stars ο Lup (mag .+4.3) and β Lup (mag. +2.7). At magnitude +6.1 it will be more than 20 times fainter than the α and β stars. Catalina then continues on a north-westerly path passing into Centaurus on September 24th where it remains until October 20th. It spends the last days of October cutting through the largest constellation of all Hydra.

Comet Catalina after sunset during October from latitude 35S (credit:- Stellarium)

From temperate northern latitudes, Catalina is not visible until November. It then finally crosses the celestial equator on December 17th becoming a true Northern Hemisphere object. On its journey through the inner Solar System the comet makes two passes of Earth. The first occurred during its inbound journey on August 14th and the second will happen on January 17, 2016 on its outward journey. On the second flyby, Northern Hemisphere observers will get their best chance to spot the comet when it approaches to within 0.72 AU or 108 million kilometres (67 million miles). At this time it could still be around 6th magnitude as it passes through one of the most famous of all constellations, Ursa Major the Great Bear or as it's commonly known the Big Dipper or Plough.

The finder charts below show the positions of the comet from August 31st to November 1st, 2015.

Comet Catalina (C/2013 US10) Finder Chart from September 22nd to November 1st, 2015 (credit:- freestarcharts)

Comet Catalina (C/2013 US10) Finder Chart from September 22nd to November 1st, 2015 - pdf format (credit:- freestarcharts)

Comet Catalina (C/2013 US10) Finder Chart from August 31st to September 24th, 2015 (credit:- freestarcharts)

Comet Catalina (C/2013 US10) Finder Chart from August 31st to September 24th, 2015 - pdf format (credit:- freestarcharts)

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

NameC/2013 US10 (Catalina)
TypeComet
DiscovererCatalina Sky Survey
Discovery dateOctober 31, 2013
Perihelion (AU)0.82290
Eccentricity1.00040
Orbital period (years)unknown
Inclination (degrees) 148.8733
Longitude of ascending node (degrees)186.1371
Perihelion November 15th, 2015

(C2013/US10) Catalina Data Table

DateRight AscensionDeclinationMag.Distance from Earth (AU)Constellation
01-Sep-201515h 32m 41s-60d 39m 17s6.31.203Triangulum Australe
02-Sep-201515h 27m 60s-59d 40m 60s6.31.215Circinus
03-Sep-201515h 23m 43s-58d 43m 27s6.31.227Circinus
04-Sep-201515h 19m 50s-57d 46m 47s6.31.239Circinus
05-Sep-201515h 16m 16s-56d 51m 03s6.21.252Circinus
06-Sep-201515h 12m 60s-55d 56m 19s6.21.265Circinus
07-Sep-201515h 09m 60s-55d 02m 38s6.21.278Lupus
08-Sep-201515h 07m 15s-54d 10m 02s6.21.291Lupus
09-Sep-201515h 04m 43s-53d 18m 33s6.21.305Lupus
10-Sep-201515h 02m 22s-52d 28m 10s6.21.319Lupus
11-Sep-201515h 00m 13s-51d 38m 56s6.21.333Lupus
12-Sep-201514h 58m 13s-50d 50m 48s6.21.347Lupus
13-Sep-201514h 56m 22s-50d 03m 47s6.21.361Lupus
14-Sep-201514h 54m 39s-49d 17m 52s6.21.375Lupus
15-Sep-201514h 53m 04s-48d 33m 02s6.21.389Lupus
16-Sep-201514h 51m 35s-47d 49m 15s6.21.403Lupus
17-Sep-201514h 50m 12s-47d 06m 31s6.21.418Lupus
18-Sep-201514h 48m 54s-46d 24m 47s6.21.432Lupus
19-Sep-201514h 47m 42s-45d 44m 02s6.21.446Lupus
20-Sep-201514h 46m 35s-45d 04m 15s6.21.460Lupus
21-Sep-201514h 45m 31s-44d 25m 23s6.11.474Lupus
22-Sep-201514h 44m 32s-43d 47m 24s6.11.489Lupus
23-Sep-201514h 43m 36s-43d 10m 17s6.11.502Lupus
24-Sep-201514h 42m 44s-42d 34m 00s6.11.516Lupus
25-Sep-201514h 41m 55s-41d 58m 31s6.11.530Centaurus
26-Sep-201514h 41m 08s-41d 23m 48s6.11.544Centaurus
27-Sep-201514h 40m 24s-40d 49m 49s6.11.557Centaurus
28-Sep-201514h 39m 43s-40d 16m 32s6.11.570Centaurus
29-Sep-201514h 39m 03s-39d 43m 56s6.11.583Centaurus
30-Sep-201514h 38m 26s-39d 11m 58s6.01.596Centaurus
01-Oct-201514h 37m 50s-38d 40m 37s6.01.609Centaurus
02-Oct-201514h 37m 16s-38d 09m 52s6.01.621Centaurus
03-Oct-201514h 36m 44s-37d 39m 40s6.01.633Centaurus
04-Oct-201514h 36m 13s-37d 09m 60s6.01.645Centaurus
05-Oct-201514h 35m 43s-36d 40m 50s6.01.657Centaurus
06-Oct-201514h 35m 15s-36d 12m 08s5.91.668Centaurus
07-Oct-201514h 34m 48s-35d 43m 54s5.91.679Centaurus
08-Oct-201514h 34m 22s-35d 16m 05s5.91.690Centaurus
09-Oct-201514h 33m 56s-34d 48m 41s5.91.700Centaurus
10-Oct-201514h 33m 32s-34d 21m 38s5.91.710Centaurus
11-Oct-201514h 33m 08s-33d 54m 57s5.81.720Centaurus
12-Oct-201514h 32m 45s-33d 28m 36s5.81.729Centaurus
13-Oct-201514h 32m 23s-33d 02m 33s5.81.738Centaurus
14-Oct-201514h 32m 01s-32d 36m 47s5.81.747Centaurus
15-Oct-201514h 31m 40s-32d 11m 16s5.81.755Centaurus
16-Oct-201514h 31m 19s-31d 45m 60s5.71.763Centaurus
17-Oct-201514h 30m 58s-31d 20m 56s5.71.770Centaurus
18-Oct-201514h 30m 38s-30d 56m 04s5.71.777Centaurus
19-Oct-201514h 30m 18s-30d 31m 23s5.71.783Centaurus
20-Oct-201514h 29m 58s-30d 06m 51s5.71.789Centaurus
21-Oct-201514h 29m 39s-29d 42m 26s5.61.795Hydra
22-Oct-201514h 29m 19s-29d 18m 09s5.61.800Hydra
23-Oct-201514h 28m 60s-28d 53m 57s5.61.804Hydra
24-Oct-201514h 28m 41s-28d 29m 50s5.61.808Hydra
25-Oct-201514h 28m 22s-28d 05m 46s5.51.812Hydra
26-Oct-201514h 28m 03s-27d 41m 45s5.51.815Hydra
27-Oct-201514h 27m 44s-27d 17m 45s5.51.817Hydra
28-Oct-201514h 27m 26s-26d 53m 45s5.51.819Hydra
29-Oct-201514h 27m 07s-26d 29m 45s5.41.821Hydra
30-Oct-201514h 26m 49s-26d 05m 43s5.41.821Hydra
31-Oct-201514h 26m 30s-25d 41m 39s5.41.822Hydra
01-Nov-201514h 26m 12s-25d 17m 31s5.41.821Hydra
02-Nov-201514h 25m 54s-24d 53m 19s5.41.820Libra
03-Nov-201514h 25m 36s-24d 29m 01s5.31.819Libra
04-Nov-201514h 25m 18s-24d 04m 38s5.31.817Libra
05-Nov-201514h 24m 60s-23d 40m 07s5.31.814Libra
06-Nov-201514h 24m 42s-23d 15m 29s5.31.811Libra
07-Nov-201514h 24m 25s-22d 50m 41s5.31.807Libra
08-Nov-201514h 24m 07s-22d 25m 44s5.21.802Libra
09-Nov-201514h 23m 50s-22d 00m 37s5.21.797Libra
10-Nov-201514h 23m 33s-21d 35m 17s5.21.791Libra
11-Nov-201514h 23m 16s-21d 09m 46s5.21.785Libra
12-Nov-201514h 22m 60s-20d 44m 01s5.21.778Libra
13-Nov-201514h 22m 44s-20d 18m 03s5.21.770Libra
14-Nov-201514h 22m 28s-19d 51m 49s5.11.762Libra
15-Nov-201514h 22m 12s-19d 25m 19s5.11.753Libra
16-Nov-201514h 21m 57s-18d 58m 31s5.11.743Virgo
17-Nov-201514h 21m 42s-18d 31m 26s5.11.733Virgo
18-Nov-201514h 21m 28s-18d 04m 01s5.11.723Virgo
19-Nov-201514h 21m 14s-17d 36m 16s5.11.711Virgo
20-Nov-201514h 21m 00s-17d 08m 10s5.11.700Virgo
21-Nov-201514h 20m 47s-16d 39m 40s5.11.687Virgo
22-Nov-201514h 20m 34s-16d 10m 46s5.11.674Virgo
23-Nov-201514h 20m 22s-15d 41m 27s5.11.661Virgo
24-Nov-201514h 20m 10s-15d 11m 40s5.01.647Virgo
25-Nov-201514h 19m 59s-14d 41m 25s5.01.632Virgo
26-Nov-201514h 19m 48s-14d 10m 40s5.01.617Virgo
27-Nov-201514h 19m 38s-13d 39m 22s5.01.601Virgo
28-Nov-201514h 19m 28s-13d 07m 30s5.01.585Virgo
29-Nov-201514h 19m 19s-12d 35m 02s5.01.569Virgo
30-Nov-201514h 19m 10s-12d 01m 56s5.01.552Virgo

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.
Comet Catalina (C/2013 US10) moves past Arcturus as it heads north during January. Remains visible with binoculars and small telescopes.
Comet Catalina (C/2013 US10) an early morning binocular and small telescope object
Catalina (C/2013 US10) an early morning binocular and small telescope comet
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