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It's now time for the final swan song for comet Catalina as it heads into deep space and not to be seen for a very long time again, if ever. On January 17th, the comet made its closest approach to Earth and was easily visible with binoculars in the constellation of Ursa Major more commonly known as the Plough or Big Dipper. At magnitude +6.2, it appeared as a fuzzy smudge of light and was clearly non-stellar in nature.

Comet Catalina (credit - Ian Sharp/Siding Spring Observatory Australia)

Although now fading, Catalina will remain within the range of telescopes for a few more weeks to come. It may also be seen with binoculars although for a shorter time period. The advantage for most living in the Northern Hemisphere is that the comet is now circumpolar and therefore visible all night long. It can be seen towards the northern part of the sky during early evenings close to Ursa Major. On January 25th, Catalina passes close by elliptical galaxy NGC 4589. This galaxy shines at magnitude +10.7 and therefore requires a medium or large size scope to be seen. For comparison, the comet will be 40x brighter than the galaxy. During the last week of January the bright Moon will somewhat interfere with viewing. Catalina then heads southwards spending all of February moving through the faint constellation of Camelopardalis. It remains well placed in the evening sky from northern latitudes although from mid southern locations it can no longer be seen.

The finder charts below show the positions of Catalina from January 9th to February 12th, 2016.

Comet Catalina (C/2013 US10) Finder Chart from January 30th to February 12th, 2016 (credit:- freestarcharts)

Comet Catalina (C/2013 US10) Finder Chart from January 30th to February 12th, 2016 - pdf format (credit:- freestarcharts)

Comet Catalina (C/2013 US10) Finder Chart from January 22nd to January 31st, 2016 (credit:- freestarcharts)

Comet Catalina (C/2013 US10) Finder Chart from January 22nd to January 31st, 2016 - pdf format (credit:- freestarcharts)

Comet Catalina (C/2013 US10) Finder Chart from January 15th to January 22nd, 2016 (credit:- freestarcharts)

Comet Catalina (C/2013 US10) Finder Chart from January 15th to January 22nd, 2016 - pdf format (credit:- freestarcharts)

Comet Catalina (C/2013 US10) Finder Chart from January 9th to January 16th, 2016 (credit:- freestarcharts)

Comet Catalina (C/2013 US10) Finder Chart from January 9th to January 16th, 2016 - 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

(C/2013 US10) Catalina Data Table

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 54s6.20.726Ursa Major
17-Jan-201613h 48m 43s54d 19m 49s6.20.725Ursa Major
18-Jan-201613h 44m 28s56d 57m 34s6.20.725Ursa Major
19-Jan-201613h 39m 30s59d 34m 18s6.30.727Ursa Major
20-Jan-201613h 33m 36s62d 09m 04s6.30.731Ursa Major
21-Jan-201613h 26m 34s64d 40m 54s6.40.736Draco
22-Jan-201613h 18m 05s67d 08m 46s6.40.743Draco
23-Jan-201613h 07m 46s69d 31m 34s6.50.751Ursa Minor
24-Jan-201612h 55m 03s71d 48m 02s6.50.761Draco
25-Jan-201612h 39m 12s73d 56m 43s6.60.772Draco
26-Jan-201612h 19m 14s75d 55m 44s6.70.785Draco
27-Jan-201611h 53m 53s77d 42m 41s6.70.799Camelopardalis
28-Jan-201611h 21m 47s79d 14m 21s6.70.814Draco
29-Jan-201610h 41m 53s80d 26m 41s6.80.830Draco
30-Jan-201609h 54m 33s81d 15m 18s6.80.848Draco
31-Jan-201609h 02m 43s81d 37m 01s6.90.866Camelopardalis
01-Feb-201608h 11m 30s81d 31m 57s6.90.886Camelopardalis
02-Feb-201607h 25m 41s81d 04m 02s7.00.906Camelopardalis
03-Feb-201606h 47m 34s80d 19m 17s7.10.928Camelopardalis
04-Feb-201606h 17m 07s79d 23m 32s7.20.950Camelopardalis
05-Feb-201605h 53m 09s78d 21m 19s7.20.973Camelopardalis
06-Feb-201605h 34m 15s77d 15m 49s7.30.997Camelopardalis
07-Feb-201605h 19m 16s76d 09m 07s7.41.021Camelopardalis
08-Feb-201605h 07m 14s75d 02m 33s7.51.046Camelopardalis
09-Feb-201604h 57m 29s73d 56m 58s7.61.072Camelopardalis
10-Feb-201604h 49m 29s72d 52m 56s7.61.098Camelopardalis
11-Feb-201604h 42m 52s71d 50m 46s7.71.124Camelopardalis
12-Feb-201604h 37m 21s70d 50m 40s7.81.151Camelopardalis
13-Feb-201604h 32m 43s69d 52m 43s7.91.179Camelopardalis
14-Feb-201604h 28m 48s68d 56m 59s7.91.207Camelopardalis
15-Feb-201604h 25m 28s68d 03m 25s8.01.235Camelopardalis
16-Feb-201604h 22m 39s67d 12m 02s8.11.263Camelopardalis
17-Feb-201604h 20m 14s66d 22m 45s8.11.292Camelopardalis
18-Feb-201604h 18m 10s65d 35m 30s8.21.321Camelopardalis
19-Feb-201604h 16m 25s64d 50m 14s8.31.350Camelopardalis
20-Feb-201604h 14m 55s64d 06m 51s8.41.380Camelopardalis
21-Feb-201604h 13m 38s63d 25m 17s8.41.409Camelopardalis
22-Feb-201604h 12m 34s62d 45m 28s8.51.439Camelopardalis
23-Feb-201604h 11m 39s62d 07m 18s8.61.469Camelopardalis
24-Feb-201604h 10m 54s61d 30m 44s8.61.499Camelopardalis
25-Feb-201604h 10m 17s60d 55m 40s8.71.530Camelopardalis
26-Feb-201604h 09m 47s60d 22m 03s8.81.560Camelopardalis
27-Feb-201604h 09m 24s59d 49m 48s8.81.591Camelopardalis
28-Feb-201604h 09m 06s59d 18m 52s8.91.621Camelopardalis
29-Feb-201604h 08m 54s58d 49m 10s9.01.652Camelopardalis

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) 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) remains 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) 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