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Following a sudden outburst of activity there is now a further comet within amateur telescope range. Comet LINEAR (C/2012 X1) was expected to be about 12th magnitude when close to perihelion next year, but on October 20th it burst into life, brightening by about 5.5 magnitudes to +8.5. It's now predicted to reach magnitude +6 and the edge of naked eye visibility early next year.


Comet LINEAR was discovered on December 8, 2012 by the Lincoln Near Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) project. The operations nerve centre is located at White Sands Missile Range (WSMR) near Socorro, New Mexico. When discovered it was a feeble magnitude +19.4.

Location, magnitude and star chart

During the latter part of October and the start of November, LINEAR is located in the northern constellation of Coma Berenices. It then moves into Boötes on November 2nd, remaining there until December 6th. During this time the comet moves reasonably slowly against the background stars. For the remainder of October it should be easily visible with medium size telescopes of the order of 200mm (8-inches) or 150mm (6-inches). As it continues to brighten it then becomes a much easier small telescope and binocular target.

In the Northern Hemisphere, LINEAR is well placed for observation towards the east before sunrise. Unfortunately, from the Southern Hemisphere, it's not observable until February 2014. On November 17th, LINEAR passes only 1 degree north of Arcturus (α Boo - mag. -0.04), the fourth brightest star in the night sky.

The finder chart below shows the positions of comet LINEAR from October 17 to December 1, 2013. With one major outburst already, this is one comet definitely worth keeping an eye out for.

Comet LINEAR (C/2012 X1) Finder Chart from October 17 to December 1, 2013

Comet LINEAR (C/2012 X1) Finder Chart from October 17 to December 1, 2013 - pdf format

C/2012 X1 (LINEAR) Data (at epoch March 11, 2013)

NameC/2012 X1 (LINEAR)
DiscovererLincoln Near Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR)
Discovery dateDecember 8, 2012
Aphelion (AU)302.148
Perihelion (AU)1.59934
Semi-major axis151.874
Orbital period (years)1871.68
Inclination (degrees) 44.3653
Longitude of ascending node (degrees)113.145
Perihelion February 21, 2014
NotesSudden outburst on October 20, 2013. Brightened by over 5 magnitudes

Comet LINEAR (C/2012 X1) Data Table

DateRight AscensionDeclinationEstimated MagnitudeDistance from Earth (AU)Constellation
20 Oct 201313h 02m 01s24d 56m 40s8.63.005Coma Berenices
21 Oct 201313h 04m 29s24d 46m 56s8.62.992Coma Berenices
22 Oct 201313h 06m 59s24d 37m 09s8.52.979Coma Berenices
23 Oct 201313h 09m 29s24d 27m 19s8.52.966Coma Berenices
24 Oct 201313h 11m 60s24d 17m 25s8.52.954Coma Berenices
25 Oct 201313h 14m 31s24d 07m 27s8.42.941Coma Berenices
26 Oct 201313h 17m 03s23d 57m 26s8.42.928Coma Berenices
27 Oct 201313h 19m 36s23d 47m 21s8.42.915Coma Berenices
28 Oct 201313h 22m 10s23d 37m 13s8.32.902Coma Berenices
29 Oct 201313h 24m 44s23d 27m 01s8.32.889Coma Berenices
30 Oct 201313h 27m 19s23d 16m 46s8.32.876Coma Berenices
31 Oct 201313h 29m 55s23d 06m 27s8.22.864Coma Berenices
01 Nov 201313h 32m 31s22d 56m 05s8.22.851Coma Berenices
02 Nov 201313h 35m 08s22d 45m 40s8.22.838Coma Berenices
03 Nov 201313h 37m 46s22d 35m 12s8.12.826Boötes
04 Nov 201313h 40m 24s22d 24m 40s8.12.813Boötes
05 Nov 201313h 43m 03s22d 14m 04s8.12.801Boötes
06 Nov 201313h 45m 43s22d 03m 26s8.02.789Boötes
07 Nov 201313h 48m 23s21d 52m 44s8.02.776Boötes
08 Nov 201313h 51m 04s21d 41m 59s8.02.764Boötes
09 Nov 201313h 53m 46s21d 31m 11s7.92.752Boötes
10 Nov 201313h 56m 28s21d 20m 20s7.92.740Boötes
11 Nov 201313h 59m 11s21d 09m 25s7.92.727Boötes
12 Nov 201314h 01m 55s20d 58m 28s7.82.715Boötes
13 Nov 201314h 04m 39s20d 47m 27s7.82.704Boötes
14 Nov 201314h 07m 24s20d 36m 23s7.82.692Boötes
15 Nov 201314h 10m 09s20d 25m 16s7.72.680Boötes
16 Nov 201314h 12m 55s20d 14m 06s7.72.668Boötes
17 Nov 201314h 15m 42s20d 02m 53s7.72.657Boötes
18 Nov 201314h 18m 30s19d 51m 37s7.62.645Boötes
19 Nov 201314h 21m 18s19d 40m 18s7.62.634Boötes
20 Nov 201314h 24m 06s19d 28m 56s7.62.622Boötes
21 Nov 201314h 26m 55s19d 17m 31s7.52.611Boötes
22 Nov 201314h 29m 45s19d 06m 04s7.52.600Boötes
23 Nov 201314h 32m 35s18d 54m 34s7.52.589Boötes
24 Nov 201314h 35m 26s18d 43m 01s7.52.578Boötes
25 Nov 201314h 38m 18s18d 31m 26s7.42.567Boötes
26 Nov 201314h 41m 10s18d 19m 48s7.42.556Boötes
27 Nov 201314h 44m 02s18d 08m 08s7.42.546Boötes
28 Nov 201314h 46m 56s17d 56m 26s7.32.535Boötes
29 Nov 201314h 49m 49s17d 44m 41s7.32.525Boötes
30 Nov 201314h 52m 44s17d 32m 54s7.32.514Boötes
01 Dec 201314h 55m 38s17d 21m 06s7.22.504Boötes
02 Dec 201314h 58m 33s17d 09m 15s7.22.494Boötes
03 Dec 201315h 01m 29s16d 57m 22s7.22.484Boötes
04 Dec 201315h 04m 25s16d 45m 28s7.12.474Boötes
05 Dec 201315h 07m 22s16d 33m 32s7.12.464Boötes
06 Dec 201315h 10m 19s16d 21m 35s7.12.455Boötes
07 Dec 201315h 13m 16s16d 09m 35s7.02.445Serpens Caput
08 Dec 201315h 16m 14s15d 57m 35s7.02.436Serpens Caput
09 Dec 201315h 19m 12s15d 45m 33s7.02.426Serpens Caput
10 Dec 201315h 22m 11s15d 33m 30s6.92.417Serpens Caput
11 Dec 201315h 25m 10s15d 21m 25s6.92.408Serpens Caput
12 Dec 201315h 28m 09s15d 09m 19s6.92.399Serpens Caput
13 Dec 201315h 31m 09s14d 57m 13s6.92.390Serpens Caput
14 Dec 201315h 34m 09s14d 45m 05s6.82.382Serpens Caput
15 Dec 201315h 37m 09s14d 32m 57s6.82.373Serpens Caput
16 Dec 201315h 40m 10s14d 20m 47s6.82.365Serpens Caput
17 Dec 201315h 43m 10s14d 08m 37s6.72.356Serpens Caput
18 Dec 201315h 46m 12s13d 56m 27s6.72.348Serpens Caput
19 Dec 201315h 49m 13s13d 44m 16s6.72.340Serpens Caput
20 Dec 201315h 52m 15s13d 32m 05s6.72.332Serpens Caput
21 Dec 201315h 55m 16s13d 19m 54s6.62.324Serpens Caput
22 Dec 201315h 58m 18s13d 07m 42s6.62.316Serpens Caput
23 Dec 201316h 01m 21s12d 55m 31s6.62.309Serpens Caput
24 Dec 201316h 04m 23s12d 43m 20s6.52.301Serpens Caput
25 Dec 201316h 07m 26s12d 31m 09s6.52.294Serpens Caput
26 Dec 201316h 10m 28s12d 18m 58s6.52.287Serpens Caput
27 Dec 201316h 13m 31s12d 06m 49s6.52.280Hercules
28 Dec 201316h 16m 34s11d 54m 39s6.42.273Hercules
29 Dec 201316h 19m 37s11d 42m 31s6.42.266Hercules
30 Dec 201316h 22m 40s11d 30m 23s6.42.259Hercules
31 Dec 201316h 25m 43s11d 18m 17s6.42.253Hercules