Comet Catalina is now an evening object that's well placed throughout January for observers at northern locations. For some weeks now the comet has shone between 6th and 7th magnitude; not quite bright enough to be seen with the naked eye but within the range of binoculars and telescopes. On January 17th, it makes its closest approach to Earth at 0.72 AU (108 million kilometres or 67 million miles). It's a shame it's not nearer but nevertheless a peak magnitude of +6.2 is predicted. After that Catalina will continue on its long journey to the far reaches of the Solar System. Although remaining superbly placed from Northern latitudes, its best days are then behind it. Catch it soon before it disappears forever!

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

Location and star charts

At the start of the year, Catalina passed less than a degree west of bright orange star Arcturus (mag. -0.04). On January 8th it moves into Canes Venatici, rising before 11pm from northern temperate locations. Continuing on its almost direct northerly trajectory the comet's visibility continues to improve for northern based observers; from the middle of the month it's visible practically all night and even circumpolar from many locations. Just west of the comet on January 14th is one of the most famous galaxies in the sky, M51 the Whirlpool Galaxy (mag. +8.4). It will be interesting to compare the appearance of the two objects. Through a small scope they both should look hazy although it's predicted Catalina will be 5 times brighter.

Comet Catalina from mid northern temperate latitudes on the evening of January 14, 2016 (credit:- Stellarium)

Next stop for Catalina is Ursa Major, the Great Bear. Such a well know constellation will aid in locating the comet. On January 17th, the date of closest approach to Earth it passes between star 83 UMa (mag. + 4.6) and M101 the Pinwheel galaxy (mag. +7.9). Following that, Catalina moves through Draco and Ursa Minor before ending the month in Camelopardalis. From southern latitudes it's visible low down in morning twilight for the first half of the month, not anymore after that.

The finder charts below show the positions of Catalina from January 1st to January 22nd, 2016.

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)

Comet Catalina (C/2013 US10) Finder Chart from January 1st to January 10th, 2016 (credit:- freestarcharts)

Comet Catalina (C/2013 US10) Finder Chart from January 1st to January 10th, 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

(C2013/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

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) 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



Sky Highlights - September 2017

Opposition
Neptune reaches opposition on September 5th

The Planets
This Month's Guide

Algol Minima
Algol eclipse dates and times for September

Northern Hemisphere
Evening
West:- Jupiter (mag. -1.7)
Southwest:- Saturn (mag. +0.5)
East:- Neptune (mag. +7.8)
Midnight
South:- Neptune
East:- Uranus (mag. +5.7)
Morning
West:- Neptune
South:- Uranus
East:- Venus (mag. -3.9), Mars (mag. +1.8) (from second week), Mercury (mag. +0.5 to -1.3) (from second week)

Southern Hemisphere
Evening
West:- Jupiter
Northwest:- Saturn
East:- Neptune
Midnight
West:- Saturn
North:- Neptune
Northeast:- Uranus
Morning
West:- Neptune
Northwest:- Uranus
Northeast:- Venus
East:- Mars (end of month)

Deep Sky

Small telescopes:-
Messier 13 - M13 - Great Hercules Globular Cluster
Messier 92 - M92 - Globular Cluster
Messier 11 - M11 - The Wild Duck Cluster (Open Cluster)
Messier 7 - M7 - The Ptolemy Cluster (Open Cluster)
Messier 6 - M6 - The Butterfly Cluster (Open Cluster)
Messier 4 - M4 - Globular Cluster
Messier 8 - M8 - Lagoon Nebula (Emission Nebula)
Messier 16 - M16 - Eagle Nebula (Emission Nebula with Open Cluster)
Messier 20 - M20 - Trifid Nebula (Emission and Reflection Nebula)

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