Comet PanSTARRS (C/2012 K1) has now passed perihelion and is once again visible in the morning sky. The comet made its closest approach to the Sun on August 27, 2014. On this date it passed approx. 1.05 AU (157 million kilometres or 98 million miles) from the Sun; a similar distance to that of the Earth/Sun.
PanSTARRS was discovered using the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (Pan-STARRS) telescope located near the summit of volcano Haleakala on the Hawaiian island of Maui. At discovery, the comet was very dim (mag. +19.7) and located 8.7 AU (1.3 billion kilometres or 800 million miles) distant, far beyond the orbit of Jupiter and almost as distant as Saturn.
Location and star chart
During October, the comet appears high in the sky before sunrise from equatorial and southern latitudes. It started the month heading in a southwesterly direction through the largest constellation of all Hydra. On October 3rd, PanSTARRS crossed into Puppis where it remains for the rest of the month.
It's predicted that the comet will hover around magnitude +6.5 during October and therefore within the range of binoculars and small telescopes. On October 23rd, PanSTARRS wanders through open cluster Collinder 135 (Cr 135), also known as the Pi Puppis cluster. This small grouping consists of four stars, all of which are visible to the naked eye. The brightest component is Pi Pup, an orange supergiant star of mag. + 2.73.
From mid northern latitudes, PanSTARRS is also visible but only for about the first three weeks of the month and nowhere near as well placed; it appears low down towards the southern sky during morning twilight.
The finder chart below shows the positions of PanSTARRS from October 10 to October 24, 2014.
C/2012 K1 (PanSTARRS) Data (at epoch August 11, 2014)
|Name||C/2012 K1 (PanSTARRS)|
|Discovery date||May 17, 2012|
|Orbital period (years)||unknown, but estimated to be at least 800,000 years|
|Longitude of ascending node (degrees)||317.738|
|Perihelion||August 27th, 2014|
Comet (C2012/K1) PanSTARRS Data Table
|Date||Right Ascension||Declination||Mag.||Distance from Earth (AU)||Constellation|
|Oct 01, 2014||08h 31m 40s||-11d 05m 22s||6.6||1.351||Hydra|
|Oct 02, 2014||08h 29m 53s||-11d 57m 54s||6.6||1.331||Hydra|
|Oct 03, 2014||08h 28m 00s||-12d 52m 00s||6.6||1.311||Hydra|
|Oct 04, 2014||08h 26m 02s||-13d 47m 43s||6.6||1.291||Puppis|
|Oct 05, 2014||08h 23m 58s||-14d 45m 06s||6.6||1.272||Puppis|
|Oct 06, 2014||08h 21m 48s||-15d 44m 12s||6.5||1.252||Puppis|
|Oct 07, 2014||08h 19m 31s||-16d 45m 05s||6.5||1.233||Puppis|
|Oct 08, 2014||08h 17m 06s||-17d 47m 45s||6.5||1.215||Puppis|
|Oct 09, 2014||08h 14m 34s||-18d 52m 17s||6.5||1.196||Puppis|
|Oct 10, 2014||08h 11m 52s||-19d 58m 40s||6.5||1.178||Puppis|
|Oct 11, 2014||08h 09m 02s||-21d 06m 58s||6.5||1.160||Puppis|
|Oct 12, 2014||08h 06m 02s||-22d 17m 10s||6.5||1.143||Puppis|
|Oct 13, 2014||08h 02m 51s||-23d 29m 16s||6.5||1.126||Puppis|
|Oct 14, 2014||07h 59m 29s||-24d 43m 16s||6.5||1.109||Puppis|
|Oct 15, 2014||07h 55m 54s||-25d 59m 07s||6.4||1.094||Puppis|
|Oct 16, 2014||07h 52m 06s||-27d 16m 46s||6.4||1.078||Puppis|
|Oct 17, 2014||07h 48m 03s||-28d 36m 09s||6.4||1.064||Puppis|
|Oct 18, 2014||07h 43m 45s||-29d 57m 09s||6.4||1.050||Puppis|
|Oct 19, 2014||07h 39m 09s||-31d 19m 38s||6.4||1.037||Puppis|
|Oct 20, 2014||07h 34m 16s||-32d 43m 26s||6.4||1.024||Puppis|
|Oct 21, 2014||07h 29m 03s||-34d 08m 21s||6.4||1.013||Puppis|
|Oct 22, 2014||07h 23m 29s||-35d 34m 08s||6.4||1.002||Puppis|
|Oct 23, 2014||07h 17m 33s||-37d 00m 32s||6.4||0.992||Puppis|
|Oct 24, 2014||07h 11m 12s||-38d 27m 11s||6.4||0.984||Puppis|
|Oct 25, 2014||07h 04m 26s||-39d 53m 45s||6.4||0.976||Puppis|
|Oct 26, 2014||06h 57m 12s||-41d 19m 48s||6.4||0.969||Puppis|
|Oct 27, 2014||06h 49m 30s||-42d 44m 53s||6.4||0.963||Puppis|
|Oct 28, 2014||06h 41m 17s||-44d 08m 31s||6.4||0.959||Puppis|
|Oct 29, 2014||06h 32m 33s||-45d 30m 10s||6.5||0.956||Puppis|
|Oct 30, 2014||06h 23m 16s||-46d 49m 16s||6.5||0.954||Puppis|
|Oct 31, 2014||06h 13m 27s||-48d 05m 16s||6.5||0.953||Puppis|