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!
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.
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.
C/2013 US10 (Catalina) Data (at epoch November 15, 2014)
|Name||C/2013 US10 (Catalina)|
|Discoverer||Catalina Sky Survey|
|Discovery date||October 31, 2013|
|Orbital period (years)||unknown|
|Longitude of ascending node (degrees)||186.1371|
|Perihelion||November 15th, 2015|
(C2013/US10) Catalina Data Table
|01-Jan-2016||14h 13m 59s||18d 21m 48s||6.4||0.898||Boötes|
|02-Jan-2016||14h 13m 28s||20d 04m 29s||6.4||0.880||Boötes|
|03-Jan-2016||14h 12m 53s||21d 51m 41s||6.4||0.863||Boötes|
|04-Jan-2016||14h 12m 13s||23d 43m 30s||6.3||0.846||Boötes|
|05-Jan-2016||14h 11m 28s||25d 40m 01s||6.3||0.830||Boötes|
|06-Jan-2016||14h 10m 37s||27d 41m 18s||6.3||0.815||Boötes|
|07-Jan-2016||14h 09m 40s||29d 47m 20s||6.3||0.800||Boötes|
|08-Jan-2016||14h 08m 35s||31d 58m 03s||6.3||0.787||Boötes|
|09-Jan-2016||14h 07m 22s||34d 13m 22s||6.3||0.775||Canes Venatici|
|10-Jan-2016||14h 05m 59s||36d 33m 03s||6.3||0.764||Canes Venatici|
|11-Jan-2016||14h 04m 24s||38d 56m 52s||6.3||0.754||Canes Venatici|
|12-Jan-2016||14h 02m 36s||41d 24m 25s||6.3||0.746||Canes Venatici|
|13-Jan-2016||14h 00m 32s||43d 55m 16s||6.3||0.738||Canes Venatici|
|14-Jan-2016||13h 58m 11s||46d 28m 54s||6.3||0.733||Canes Venatici|
|15-Jan-2016||13h 55m 28s||49d 04m 41s||6.3||0.729||Ursa Major|
|16-Jan-2016||13h 52m 21s||51d 41m 54s||6.2||0.726||Ursa Major|
|17-Jan-2016||13h 48m 43s||54d 19m 49s||6.2||0.725||Ursa Major|
|18-Jan-2016||13h 44m 28s||56d 57m 34s||6.2||0.725||Ursa Major|
|19-Jan-2016||13h 39m 30s||59d 34m 18s||6.3||0.727||Ursa Major|
|20-Jan-2016||13h 33m 36s||62d 09m 04s||6.3||0.731||Ursa Major|
|21-Jan-2016||13h 26m 34s||64d 40m 54s||6.4||0.736||Draco|
|22-Jan-2016||13h 18m 05s||67d 08m 46s||6.4||0.743||Draco|
|23-Jan-2016||13h 07m 46s||69d 31m 34s||6.5||0.751||Ursa Minor|
|24-Jan-2016||12h 55m 03s||71d 48m 02s||6.5||0.761||Draco|
|25-Jan-2016||12h 39m 12s||73d 56m 43s||6.6||0.772||Draco|
|26-Jan-2016||12h 19m 14s||75d 55m 44s||6.7||0.785||Draco|
|27-Jan-2016||11h 53m 53s||77d 42m 41s||6.7||0.799||Camelopardalis|
|28-Jan-2016||11h 21m 47s||79d 14m 21s||6.7||0.814||Draco|
|29-Jan-2016||10h 41m 53s||80d 26m 41s||6.8||0.830||Draco|
|30-Jan-2016||09h 54m 33s||81d 15m 18s||6.8||0.848||Draco|
|31-Jan-2016||09h 02m 43s||81d 37m 01s||6.9||0.866||Camelopardalis|
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