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Newly found comet MASTER (C/2015 G2) is currently brightening sufficiently that it should reach naked eye brightness from southern and equatorial latitudes soon. When discovered on April 7th by astronomers using the MASTER-SAAO telescope at the South African Astronomical Observatory near Sutherland it shone at magnitude +10.7. The following week it had already brightened to 9th magnitude and is now on course to reach magnitude +5 during the middle of May.

Comet MASTER (Ian Musgrave - astroblogger.blogspot.com)

Location and star chart

Comet MASTER spends most of April moving through Aquarius on a south-easterly trajectory. On April 20th it passes 0.5 degrees north of planetary nebula NGC 7293, the Helix Nebula. At magnitude +7.3, the Helix isn't visible to the naked eye but is still the sky's brightest planetary nebula. However, it's a large object with a low surface brightness and therefore not as easy to spot as it's magnitude suggests. For example, the Dumbbell Nebula (M27), a slightly fainter but more compact planetary is much easier to see.

The comet then cuts through a corner of Piscis Austrinus on April 27th when it's located 5 degrees north and slightly east of the constellations stand out star, Fomalhaut (α PsA - mag. +1.2). After spending only a few hours in Piscis Austrinus it then moves into faint Sculptor where it remains for the rest of the month.

At the end of April, MASTER is predicted to have brightened to magnitude +6.8. On May 13th it reaches closest point to Earth at 70 million kilometres or 44 million miles distant. The comet should continue to brighten before peaking at magnitude +4.9 on May 15th. It then reaches perihelion on May 23rd when it's located 115 million kilometres (72 million miles) from the Sun.

From southern and equatorial latitudes, MASTER is currently well placed for observation and is visible towards the east before sunrise during April. From northern temperate locations the comet is not observable until September when it will be extremely faint. Of course, comets are unpredictable and anything could happen, so keep watching!

The finder chart below shows the positions of comet MASTER from April 17 to May 5, 2015.

Comet MASTER (C/2015 Q2) Finder Chart from April 17th to May 5th, 2015

Comet MASTER (C/2015 Q2) Finder Chart from April 17th to May 5th, 2015 - pdf format

C/2015 G2 (MASTER) Data (at epoch April 8, 2015)

NameC/2015 G2 (MASTER)
TypeComet
DiscovererMASTER telescope at the South African Astronomical Observatory
Discovery dateApril 7, 2015
Perihelion (AU)0.77972
Eccentricity1.00000
Orbital period (years)Unknown
Inclination (degrees) 147.631
Longitude of ascending node (degrees)110.020
Perihelion May 23rd, 2015

Comet (C2015/G2) MASTER Data Table

DateRight AscensionDeclinationMag.Distance from Earth (AU)Constellation
01-Apr-201521h 46m 31s-14d 09m 60s11.01.701Capricornus
02-Apr-201521h 48m 02s-14d 22m 42s10.91.670Capricornus
03-Apr-201521h 49m 35s-14d 35m 57s10.81.638Capricornus
04-Apr-201521h 51m 12s-14d 49m 46s10.61.605Capricornus
05-Apr-201521h 52m 52s-15d 04m 11s10.51.573Capricornus
06-Apr-201521h 54m 36s-15d 19m 14s10.41.540Capricornus
07-Apr-201521h 56m 24s-15d 34m 57s10.31.507Capricornus
08-Apr-201521h 58m 16s-15d 51m 25s10.11.474Capricornus
09-Apr-201522h 00m 13s-16d 08m 38s10.01.440Aquarius
10-Apr-201522h 02m 15s-16d 26m 41s9.91.407Aquarius
11-Apr-201522h 04m 23s-16d 45m 37s9.71.373Aquarius
12-Apr-201522h 06m 37s-17d 05m 29s9.61.339Aquarius
13-Apr-201522h 08m 58s-17d 26m 21s9.41.304Aquarius
14-Apr-201522h 11m 27s-17d 48m 19s9.31.270Aquarius
15-Apr-201522h 14m 04s-18d 11m 25s9.21.236Aquarius
16-Apr-201522h 16m 51s-18d 35m 46s9.01.201Aquarius
17-Apr-201522h 19m 48s-19d 01m 26s8.91.166Aquarius
18-Apr-201522h 22m 56s-19d 28m 32s8.71.131Aquarius
19-Apr-201522h 26m 18s-19d 57m 09s8.61.097Aquarius
20-Apr-201522h 29m 54s-20d 27m 25s8.41.062Aquarius
21-Apr-201522h 33m 46s-20d 59m 25s8.21.027Aquarius
22-Apr-201522h 37m 56s-21d 33m 18s8.10.992Aquarius
23-Apr-201522h 42m 26s-22d 09m 10s7.90.958Aquarius
24-Apr-201522h 47m 20s-22d 47m 10s7.80.923Aquarius
25-Apr-201522h 52m 40s-23d 27m 24s7.60.889Aquarius
26-Apr-201522h 58m 29s-24d 09m 58s7.40.855Aquarius
27-Apr-201523h 04m 53s-24d 54m 58s7.30.821Piscis Austrinus
28-Apr-201523h 11m 55s-25d 42m 26s7.10.788Sculptor
29-Apr-201523h 19m 42s-26d 32m 22s6.90.756Sculptor
30-Apr-201523h 28m 19s-27d 24m 39s6.80.724Sculptor
01-May-201523h 37m 54s-28d 19m 04s6.60.693Sculptor
02-May-201523h 48m 35s-29d 15m 11s6.40.663Sculptor
03-May-201500h 00m 31s-30d 12m 21s6.20.634Sculptor
04-May-201500h 13m 51s-31d 09m 33s6.10.607Sculptor
05-May-201500h 28m 44s-32d 05m 20s5.90.581Sculptor
06-May-201500h 45m 19s-32d 57m 44s5.70.557Sculptor
07-May-201501h 03m 42s-33d 44m 14s5.60.536Sculptor
08-May-201501h 23m 55s-34d 21m 44s5.50.517Sculptor
09-May-201501h 45m 52s-34d 46m 44s5.30.500Fornax
10-May-201502h 09m 19s-34d 55m 42s5.20.488Fornax
11-May-201502h 33m 55s-34d 45m 34s5.10.478Fornax
12-May-201502h 59m 06s-34d 14m 21s5.00.472Fornax
13-May-201503h 24m 16s-33d 21m 36s5.00.471Fornax
14-May-201503h 48m 49s-32d 08m 45s5.00.473Fornax
15-May-201504h 12m 13s-30d 38m 45s4.90.479Eridanus
16-May-201504h 34m 05s-28d 55m 40s4.90.489Eridanus
17-May-201504h 54m 11s-27d 03m 57s5.00.502Caelum
18-May-201505h 12m 26s-25d 07m 47s5.00.519Lepus
19-May-201505h 28m 52s-23d 10m 46s5.10.538Lepus
20-May-201505h 43m 35s-21d 15m 40s5.10.561Lepus
21-May-201505h 56m 43s-19d 24m 26s5.20.585Lepus
22-May-201506h 08m 25s-17d 38m 18s5.30.611Lepus
23-May-201506h 18m 51s-15d 57m 58s5.40.639Canis Major
24-May-201506h 28m 11s-14d 23m 41s5.50.669Canis Major
25-May-201506h 36m 31s-12d 55m 28s5.60.700Canis Major
26-May-201506h 43m 59s-11d 33m 06s5.70.731Canis Major
27-May-201506h 50m 43s-10d 16m 17s5.80.764Monoceros
28-May-201506h 56m 46s-09d 04m 39s5.90.797Monoceros
29-May-201507h 02m 15s-07d 57m 48s6.00.831Monoceros
30-May-201507h 07m 13s-06d 55m 22s6.10.865Monoceros
31-May-201507h 11m 45s-05d 56m 59s6.30.899Monoceros
01-Jun-201507h 15m 52s-05d 02m 17s6.40.934Monoceros
02-Jun-201507h 19m 39s-04d 10m 57s6.50.969Monoceros
03-Jun-201507h 23m 06s-03d 22m 41s6.61.004Monoceros
04-Jun-201507h 26m 18s-02d 37m 14s6.71.039Monoceros
05-Jun-201507h 29m 14s-01d 54m 21s6.91.074Monoceros
06-Jun-201507h 31m 57s-01d 13m 48s7.01.109Monoceros
07-Jun-201507h 34m 28s-00d 35m 25s7.11.143Monoceros
08-Jun-201507h 36m 49s00d 00m 60s7.21.178Canis Minor
09-Jun-201507h 39m 01s00d 35m 35s7.31.212Canis Minor
10-Jun-201507h 41m 03s01d 08m 30s7.51.247Canis Minor
11-Jun-201507h 42m 58s01d 39m 52s7.61.281Canis Minor
12-Jun-201507h 44m 46s02d 09m 48s7.71.314Canis Minor
13-Jun-201507h 46m 28s02d 38m 24s7.81.348Canis Minor
14-Jun-201507h 48m 04s03d 05m 46s8.01.381Canis Minor
15-Jun-201507h 49m 35s03d 31m 59s8.11.413Canis Minor
16-Jun-201507h 51m 01s03d 57m 08s8.21.446Canis Minor
17-Jun-201507h 52m 23s04d 21m 16s8.31.478Canis Minor
18-Jun-201507h 53m 42s04d 44m 28s8.51.509Canis Minor
19-Jun-201507h 54m 56s05d 06m 47s8.61.540Canis Minor
20-Jun-201507h 56m 07s05d 28m 16s8.71.571Canis Minor
21-Jun-201507h 57m 16s05d 48m 59s8.81.602Canis Minor
22-Jun-201507h 58m 21s06d 08m 57s9.01.632Canis Minor
23-Jun-201507h 59m 24s06d 28m 15s9.11.661Canis Minor
24-Jun-201508h 00m 25s06d 46m 53s9.21.691Canis Minor
25-Jun-201508h 01m 24s07d 04m 54s9.31.719Canis Minor
26-Jun-201508h 02m 21s07d 22m 20s9.41.748Cancer
27-Jun-201508h 03m 16s07d 39m 13s9.61.776Cancer
28-Jun-201508h 04m 09s07d 55m 34s9.71.803Cancer
29-Jun-201508h 05m 01s08d 11m 26s9.81.830Cancer
30-Jun-201508h 05m 52s08d 26m 49s9.91.857Cancer

See also

Comet MASTER (C/2015 G2) still on course to reach naked eye brightness in May 2015