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Periodic comet 252P/LINEAR which has an orbital period of 5.33 years has now just past perihelion - closest point to the Sun - and should remain visible with binoculars and small scopes in the early morning April skies. Although only discovered at the turn of the century this comet has surprised astronomers by its brightness, over 100x more than originally predicted. On March 21st it passed just 0.036 A.U. (14 Moon distances) from the Earth and shone at mag. +3.9 and therefore visible to the naked eye.

Comet 252P/LINEAR on March 18, 2016 (credit - Gerald Rhemann / Namibia)

At closest approach, 252P/LINEAR raced across southern the sky at a rate of almost ten degrees per day. The comet has now slowly down significantly and for the next few months it makes a giant circle in the sky centred on Ophiuchus. Although expected to fade from magnitude +5.7 to +9.1 during April it should still remain bright enough to be seen with binoculars and small scopes throughout the month. However, comets are unpredictable and LINEAR could quite easily dramatically fade over the coming weeks. Therefore, do catch a look at this fuzzy object now the opportunity is good.

Comet 252P/LINEAR as seen from mid-northern temperate latitudes at 4am on April 14, 2016 (credit:- stellarium/freestarcharts)

LINEAR can currently be seen in the early morning hours north of much brighter planets Mars (mag. -0.5 to -1.4) and Saturn (mag. +0.3). The comet remains close to the celestial equator and therefore can be see from all habitable locations worldwide. During the last week of April the bright Moon will interfere with viewing.

The finder chart below shows the position of LINEAR from April 4th to August 6th, 2016.

Comet 252P/LINEAR Finder Chart from April 4th to August 6th, 2016 (credit:- freestarcharts)

Comet 252P/LINEAR Finder Chart from April 4th to August 6th, 2016 - pdf format (credit:- freestarcharts)

252P/LINEAR Data (at epoch August 01, 2015)

DiscovererLINEAR Survey
Discovery dateApril 7, 2000
Perihelion (AU)0.9961
Aphelion (AU)5.1079
Semi-major axis (AU)3.0520
Orbital period (years)5.33
Inclination (degrees) 10.4046
Perihelion March 21, 2016

252P/LINEAR Data Table

01-Mar-201605h 45m 51s-32d 04m 05s6.80.127Columba
02-Mar-201605h 45m 51s-32d 52m 52s6.70.122Columba
03-Mar-201605h 45m 54s-33d 46m 05s6.60.116Columba
04-Mar-201605h 46m 00s-34d 44m 26s6.50.111Columba
05-Mar-201605h 46m 10s-35d 48m 43s6.40.105Columba
06-Mar-201605h 46m 22s-36d 59m 55s6.20.100Columba
07-Mar-201605h 46m 40s-38d 19m 14s6.10.094Columba
08-Mar-201605h 47m 02s-39d 48m 10s6.00.089Columba
09-Mar-201605h 47m 30s-41d 28m 30s5.80.083Columba
10-Mar-201605h 48m 05s-43d 22m 30s5.70.078Pictor
11-Mar-201605h 48m 51s-45d 32m 59s5.50.073Pictor
12-Mar-201605h 49m 50s-48d 03m 26s5.30.068Pictor
13-Mar-201605h 51m 08s-50d 58m 14s5.20.063Pictor
14-Mar-201605h 52m 54s-54d 22m 46s5.00.058Pictor
15-Mar-201605h 55m 25s-58d 23m 34s4.80.053Pictor
16-Mar-201605h 59m 16s-63d 08m 08s4.60.049Dorado
17-Mar-201606h 05m 52s-68d 44m 21s4.40.045Dorado
18-Mar-201606h 19m 45s-75d 18m 07s4.30.042Mensa
19-Mar-201607h 06m 13s-82d 44m 02s4.10.039Mensa
20-Mar-201614h 01m 24s-86d 35m 29s4.00.037Octans
21-Mar-201616h 44m 03s-78d 11m 36s3.90.036Apus
22-Mar-201617h 09m 08s-68d 33m 48s3.90.036Triangulum Australe
23-Mar-201617h 18m 50s-59d 05m 01s4.00.037Ara
24-Mar-201617h 23m 57s-50d 17m 24s4.20.039Ara
25-Mar-201617h 27m 04s-42d 28m 35s4.30.041Scorpius
26-Mar-201617h 29m 09s-35d 43m 40s4.50.045Scorpius
27-Mar-201617h 30m 38s-29d 59m 21s4.70.049Ophiuchus
28-Mar-201617h 31m 42s-25d 08m 24s4.90.053Ophiuchus
29-Mar-201617h 32m 30s-21d 02m 28s5.10.057Ophiuchus
30-Mar-201617h 33m 05s-17d 33m 48s5.30.062Ophiuchus
31-Mar-201617h 33m 31s-14d 35m 41s5.50.067Serpens
01-Apr-201617h 33m 49s-12d 02m 35s5.70.072Serpens
02-Apr-201617h 34m 01s-09d 50m 01s5.80.078Ophiuchus
03-Apr-201617h 34m 07s-07d 54m 25s6.00.083Ophiuchus
04-Apr-201617h 34m 09s-06d 12m 55s6.20.089Ophiuchus
05-Apr-201617h 34m 06s-04d 43m 15s6.30.094Ophiuchus
06-Apr-201617h 33m 59s-03d 23m 33s6.50.099Ophiuchus
07-Apr-201617h 33m 49s-02d 12m 21s6.60.105Ophiuchus
08-Apr-201617h 33m 35s-01d 08m 25s6.80.111Ophiuchus
09-Apr-201617h 33m 19s-00d 10m 48s6.90.116Ophiuchus
10-Apr-201617h 32m 59s00d 41m 22s7.00.122Ophiuchus
11-Apr-201617h 32m 37s01d 28m 44s7.20.127Ophiuchus
12-Apr-201617h 32m 12s02d 11m 52s7.30.133Ophiuchus
13-Apr-201617h 31m 44s02d 51m 15s7.40.139Ophiuchus
14-Apr-201617h 31m 14s03d 27m 18s7.50.144Ophiuchus
15-Apr-201617h 30m 42s04d 00m 21s7.70.150Ophiuchus
16-Apr-201617h 30m 08s04d 30m 42s7.80.156Ophiuchus
17-Apr-201617h 29m 31s04d 58m 36s7.90.162Ophiuchus
18-Apr-201617h 28m 53s05d 24m 16s8.00.167Ophiuchus
19-Apr-201617h 28m 12s05d 47m 54s8.10.173Ophiuchus
20-Apr-201617h 27m 30s06d 09m 38s8.20.179Ophiuchus
21-Apr-201617h 26m 45s06d 29m 39s8.30.184Ophiuchus
22-Apr-201617h 25m 59s06d 48m 04s8.40.190Ophiuchus
23-Apr-201617h 25m 11s07d 04m 58s8.50.196Ophiuchus
24-Apr-201617h 24m 21s07d 20m 28s8.60.202Ophiuchus
25-Apr-201617h 23m 29s07d 34m 39s8.70.208Ophiuchus
26-Apr-201617h 22m 36s07d 47m 35s8.80.213Ophiuchus
27-Apr-201617h 21m 41s07d 59m 21s8.90.219Ophiuchus
28-Apr-201617h 20m 45s08d 09m 59s9.00.225Ophiuchus
29-Apr-201617h 19m 47s08d 19m 34s9.10.231Ophiuchus
30-Apr-201617h 18m 48s08d 28m 07s9.20.237Ophiuchus
01-May-201617h 17m 47s08d 35m 42s9.30.243Ophiuchus
02-May-201617h 16m 46s08d 42m 20s9.40.249Ophiuchus
03-May-201617h 15m 43s08d 48m 04s9.50.255Ophiuchus
04-May-201617h 14m 39s08d 52m 56s9.60.261Ophiuchus
05-May-201617h 13m 34s08d 56m 56s9.70.267Ophiuchus
06-May-201617h 12m 29s09d 00m 08s9.80.274Ophiuchus
07-May-201617h 11m 23s09d 02m 32s9.90.280Ophiuchus
08-May-201617h 10m 16s09d 04m 09s10.00.286Ophiuchus
09-May-201617h 09m 09s09d 05m 02s10.10.293Ophiuchus
10-May-201617h 08m 02s09d 05m 12s10.20.299Ophiuchus
11-May-201617h 06m 54s09d 04m 40s10.20.306Ophiuchus
12-May-201617h 05m 47s09d 03m 27s10.30.312Ophiuchus
13-May-201617h 04m 40s09d 01m 35s10.40.319Ophiuchus
14-May-201617h 03m 33s08d 59m 05s10.50.326Ophiuchus
15-May-201617h 02m 26s08d 55m 59s10.60.333Ophiuchus
16-May-201617h 01m 20s08d 52m 18s10.70.339Ophiuchus
17-May-201617h 00m 14s08d 48m 03s10.80.346Ophiuchus
18-May-201616h 59m 09s08d 43m 15s10.90.354Ophiuchus
19-May-201616h 58m 05s08d 37m 56s11.00.361Ophiuchus
20-May-201616h 57m 01s08d 32m 07s11.00.368Ophiuchus
21-May-201616h 55m 58s08d 25m 49s11.10.375Ophiuchus
22-May-201616h 54m 56s08d 19m 03s11.20.383Ophiuchus
23-May-201616h 53m 56s08d 11m 51s11.30.391Ophiuchus
24-May-201616h 52m 56s08d 04m 13s11.40.398Ophiuchus
25-May-201616h 51m 57s07d 56m 10s11.50.406Ophiuchus
26-May-201616h 51m 00s07d 47m 44s11.60.414Hercules
27-May-201616h 50m 04s07d 38m 56s11.60.422Hercules
28-May-201616h 49m 09s07d 29m 46s11.70.430Hercules
29-May-201616h 48m 16s07d 20m 16s11.80.439Hercules
30-May-201616h 47m 24s07d 10m 26s11.90.447Hercules
31-May-201616h 46m 33s07d 00m 18s12.00.455Hercules
01-Jun-201616h 45m 44s06d 49m 53s12.10.464Hercules
02-Jun-201616h 44m 57s06d 39m 10s12.10.473Hercules
03-Jun-201616h 44m 11s06d 28m 12s12.20.482Hercules
04-Jun-201616h 43m 27s06d 16m 59s12.30.491Hercules
05-Jun-201616h 42m 45s06d 05m 32s12.40.500Hercules
06-Jun-201616h 42m 04s05d 53m 52s12.50.509Hercules
07-Jun-201616h 41m 26s05d 41m 60s12.60.519Hercules
08-Jun-201616h 40m 49s05d 29m 56s12.60.528Hercules
09-Jun-201616h 40m 14s05d 17m 42s12.70.538Hercules
10-Jun-201616h 39m 41s05d 05m 19s12.80.548Hercules
11-Jun-201616h 39m 10s04d 52m 46s12.90.558Hercules
12-Jun-201616h 38m 40s04d 40m 06s13.00.568Hercules
13-Jun-201616h 38m 13s04d 27m 19s13.00.578Hercules
14-Jun-201616h 37m 48s04d 14m 25s13.10.589Hercules
15-Jun-201616h 37m 24s04d 01m 26s13.20.599Hercules
16-Jun-201616h 37m 03s03d 48m 22s13.30.610Hercules
17-Jun-201616h 36m 43s03d 35m 13s13.30.621Ophiuchus
18-Jun-201616h 36m 25s03d 22m 01s13.40.632Ophiuchus
19-Jun-201616h 36m 09s03d 08m 46s13.50.643Ophiuchus
20-Jun-201616h 35m 55s02d 55m 28s13.60.654Ophiuchus
21-Jun-201616h 35m 43s02d 42m 09s13.70.666Ophiuchus
22-Jun-201616h 35m 33s02d 28m 48s13.70.677Ophiuchus
23-Jun-201616h 35m 24s02d 15m 26s13.80.689Ophiuchus
24-Jun-201616h 35m 18s02d 02m 04s13.90.701Ophiuchus
25-Jun-201616h 35m 13s01d 48m 41s14.00.713Ophiuchus
26-Jun-201616h 35m 09s01d 35m 19s14.00.725Ophiuchus
27-Jun-201616h 35m 08s01d 21m 58s14.10.737Ophiuchus
28-Jun-201616h 35m 08s01d 08m 38s14.20.749Ophiuchus
29-Jun-201616h 35m 10s00d 55m 19s14.20.762Ophiuchus
30-Jun-201616h 35m 14s00d 42m 02s14.30.775Ophiuchus
01-Jul-201616h 35m 19s00d 28m 47s14.40.788Ophiuchus
02-Jul-201616h 35m 26s00d 15m 34s14.50.801Ophiuchus
03-Jul-201616h 35m 35s00d 02m 24s14.50.814Ophiuchus
04-Jul-201616h 35m 46s-00d 10m 43s14.60.827Ophiuchus
05-Jul-201616h 35m 58s-00d 23m 47s14.70.840Ophiuchus
06-Jul-201616h 36m 11s-00d 36m 48s14.70.854Ophiuchus
07-Jul-201616h 36m 26s-00d 49m 44s14.80.868Ophiuchus
08-Jul-201616h 36m 43s-01d 02m 37s14.90.881Ophiuchus
09-Jul-201616h 37m 01s-01d 15m 26s15.00.895Ophiuchus
10-Jul-201616h 37m 21s-01d 28m 10s15.00.909Ophiuchus
11-Jul-201616h 37m 42s-01d 40m 49s15.10.924Ophiuchus
12-Jul-201616h 38m 05s-01d 53m 24s15.20.938Ophiuchus
13-Jul-201616h 38m 29s-02d 05m 53s15.20.953Ophiuchus
14-Jul-201616h 38m 55s-02d 18m 18s15.30.967Ophiuchus
15-Jul-201616h 39m 22s-02d 30m 37s15.40.982Ophiuchus
16-Jul-201616h 39m 50s-02d 42m 50s15.40.997Ophiuchus
17-Jul-201616h 40m 20s-02d 54m 58s15.51.012Ophiuchus
18-Jul-201616h 40m 51s-03d 07m 00s15.61.027Ophiuchus
19-Jul-201616h 41m 23s-03d 18m 56s15.61.042Ophiuchus
20-Jul-201616h 41m 57s-03d 30m 47s15.71.058Ophiuchus
21-Jul-201616h 42m 32s-03d 42m 31s15.81.073Ophiuchus
22-Jul-201616h 43m 07s-03d 54m 09s15.81.089Ophiuchus
23-Jul-201616h 43m 45s-04d 05m 41s15.91.105Ophiuchus
24-Jul-201616h 44m 23s-04d 17m 07s15.91.120Ophiuchus
25-Jul-201616h 45m 02s-04d 28m 26s16.01.136Ophiuchus
26-Jul-201616h 45m 43s-04d 39m 39s16.11.152Ophiuchus
27-Jul-201616h 46m 24s-04d 50m 46s16.11.169Ophiuchus
28-Jul-201616h 47m 07s-05d 01m 46s16.21.185Ophiuchus
29-Jul-201616h 47m 51s-05d 12m 40s16.31.202Ophiuchus
30-Jul-201616h 48m 35s-05d 23m 28s16.31.218Ophiuchus
31-Jul-201616h 49m 21s-05d 34m 09s16.41.235Ophiuchus
01-Aug-201616h 50m 08s-05d 44m 43s16.41.252Ophiuchus
02-Aug-201616h 50m 56s-05d 55m 11s16.51.268Ophiuchus
03-Aug-201616h 51m 44s-06d 05m 32s16.61.285Ophiuchus
04-Aug-201616h 52m 34s-06d 15m 46s16.61.303Ophiuchus
05-Aug-201616h 53m 25s-06d 25m 54s16.71.320Ophiuchus
06-Aug-201616h 54m 16s-06d 35m 55s16.71.337Ophiuchus
07-Aug-201616h 55m 09s-06d 45m 50s16.81.355Ophiuchus
08-Aug-201616h 56m 02s-06d 55m 37s16.81.372Ophiuchus
09-Aug-201616h 56m 57s-07d 05m 18s16.91.390Ophiuchus
10-Aug-201616h 57m 52s-07d 14m 52s17.01.407Ophiuchus
11-Aug-201616h 58m 48s-07d 24m 19s17.01.425Ophiuchus
12-Aug-201616h 59m 45s-07d 33m 39s17.11.443Ophiuchus
13-Aug-201617h 00m 42s-07d 42m 53s17.11.461Ophiuchus
14-Aug-201617h 01m 41s-07d 51m 60s17.21.479Ophiuchus
15-Aug-201617h 02m 40s-08d 00m 59s17.21.497Ophiuchus
16-Aug-201617h 03m 40s-08d 09m 52s17.31.516Ophiuchus
17-Aug-201617h 04m 40s-08d 18m 39s17.31.534Ophiuchus
18-Aug-201617h 05m 42s-08d 27m 18s17.41.552Ophiuchus
19-Aug-201617h 06m 44s-08d 35m 50s17.51.571Ophiuchus
20-Aug-201617h 07m 46s-08d 44m 16s17.51.589Ophiuchus
21-Aug-201617h 08m 50s-08d 52m 35s17.61.608Ophiuchus
22-Aug-201617h 09m 54s-09d 00m 47s17.61.627Ophiuchus
23-Aug-201617h 10m 58s-09d 08m 52s17.71.646Ophiuchus
24-Aug-201617h 12m 03s-09d 16m 51s17.71.665Ophiuchus
25-Aug-201617h 13m 09s-09d 24m 43s17.81.684Ophiuchus
26-Aug-201617h 14m 16s-09d 32m 28s17.81.703Ophiuchus
27-Aug-201617h 15m 23s-09d 40m 07s17.91.722Ophiuchus
28-Aug-201617h 16m 31s-09d 47m 39s17.91.741Ophiuchus
29-Aug-201617h 17m 39s-09d 55m 04s18.01.760Ophiuchus
30-Aug-201617h 18m 48s-10d 02m 23s18.01.779Ophiuchus
31-Aug-201617h 19m 57s-10d 09m 34s18.11.799Serpens
01-Sep-201617h 21m 07s-10d 16m 40s18.11.818Serpens
02-Sep-201617h 22m 18s-10d 23m 39s18.21.838Serpens
03-Sep-201617h 23m 29s-10d 30m 31s18.21.857Serpens
04-Sep-201617h 24m 40s-10d 37m 16s18.31.877Serpens
05-Sep-201617h 25m 52s-10d 43m 55s18.31.896Serpens
06-Sep-201617h 27m 05s-10d 50m 28s18.41.916Serpens
07-Sep-201617h 28m 18s-10d 56m 53s18.41.936Serpens
08-Sep-201617h 29m 31s-11d 03m 13s18.51.955Serpens
09-Sep-201617h 30m 45s-11d 09m 25s18.51.975Serpens
10-Sep-201617h 31m 60s-11d 15m 32s18.51.995Serpens
11-Sep-201617h 33m 14s-11d 21m 31s18.62.015Serpens
12-Sep-201617h 34m 30s-11d 27m 25s18.62.035Serpens
13-Sep-201617h 35m 45s-11d 33m 12s18.72.055Serpens
14-Sep-201617h 37m 01s-11d 38m 52s18.72.075Serpens
15-Sep-201617h 38m 18s-11d 44m 26s18.82.095Serpens
16-Sep-201617h 39m 35s-11d 49m 53s18.82.115Serpens
17-Sep-201617h 40m 52s-11d 55m 15s18.92.135Serpens
18-Sep-201617h 42m 10s-12d 00m 29s18.92.155Serpens
19-Sep-201617h 43m 27s-12d 05m 38s18.92.175Serpens
20-Sep-201617h 44m 46s-12d 10m 40s19.02.195Serpens
21-Sep-201617h 46m 04s-12d 15m 36s19.02.216Serpens
22-Sep-201617h 47m 23s-12d 20m 26s19.12.236Serpens
23-Sep-201617h 48m 43s-12d 25m 09s19.12.256Serpens
24-Sep-201617h 50m 02s-12d 29m 47s19.22.276Serpens
25-Sep-201617h 51m 22s-12d 34m 18s19.22.297Serpens
26-Sep-201617h 52m 42s-12d 38m 42s19.22.317Serpens
27-Sep-201617h 54m 03s-12d 43m 01s19.32.337Serpens
28-Sep-201617h 55m 24s-12d 47m 14s19.32.357Serpens
29-Sep-201617h 56m 45s-12d 51m 20s19.42.378Serpens
30-Sep-201617h 58m 06s-12d 55m 21s19.42.398Serpens
01-Oct-201617h 59m 28s-12d 59m 15s19.42.418Serpens
02-Oct-201618h 00m 50s-13d 03m 03s19.52.439Serpens
03-Oct-201618h 02m 12s-13d 06m 45s19.52.459Serpens
04-Oct-201618h 03m 35s-13d 10m 22s19.62.479Serpens
05-Oct-201618h 04m 57s-13d 13m 52s19.62.499Serpens
06-Oct-201618h 06m 20s-13d 17m 16s19.62.520Serpens
07-Oct-201618h 07m 44s-13d 20m 34s19.72.540Serpens
08-Oct-201618h 09m 07s-13d 23m 47s19.72.560Serpens
09-Oct-201618h 10m 31s-13d 26m 53s19.82.580Serpens
10-Oct-201618h 11m 55s-13d 29m 53s19.82.601Serpens
11-Oct-201618h 13m 19s-13d 32m 48s19.82.621Serpens
12-Oct-201618h 14m 43s-13d 35m 37s19.92.641Serpens
13-Oct-201618h 16m 07s-13d 38m 19s19.92.661Serpens
14-Oct-201618h 17m 32s-13d 40m 56s19.92.681Serpens
15-Oct-201618h 18m 57s-13d 43m 28s20.02.701Serpens
16-Oct-201618h 20m 22s-13d 45m 53s20.02.721Serpens
17-Oct-201618h 21m 47s-13d 48m 13s20.12.741Serpens
18-Oct-201618h 23m 12s-13d 50m 27s20.12.761Scutum
19-Oct-201618h 24m 37s-13d 52m 36s20.12.781Scutum
20-Oct-201618h 26m 03s-13d 54m 38s20.22.801Scutum
21-Oct-201618h 27m 28s-13d 56m 35s20.22.821Scutum
22-Oct-201618h 28m 54s-13d 58m 27s20.22.841Scutum
23-Oct-201618h 30m 20s-14d 00m 13s20.32.861Scutum
24-Oct-201618h 31m 46s-14d 01m 53s20.32.881Scutum
25-Oct-201618h 33m 12s-14d 03m 28s20.32.900Scutum
26-Oct-201618h 34m 39s-14d 04m 57s20.42.920Scutum
27-Oct-201618h 36m 05s-14d 06m 21s20.42.940Scutum
28-Oct-201618h 37m 32s-14d 07m 40s20.42.959Scutum
29-Oct-201618h 38m 58s-14d 08m 53s20.52.979Scutum
30-Oct-201618h 40m 25s-14d 10m 00s20.52.998Scutum
31-Oct-201618h 41m 52s-14d 11m 02s20.53.018Scutum
01-Nov-201618h 43m 19s-14d 11m 59s20.63.037Scutum