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PanSTARRS (C/2013 X1) is currently the brightest comet in the sky and can be seen with binoculars and small telescopes in early morning. The comet is currently approaching Earth and will continue to brighten slightly, peaking at mag. +6.0 when closest approach is reached at the end of June. It's better placed from southern and equatorial latitudes where it appears high in the sky than from northern temperate locations where it always keeps low down.

Comet PanSTARRS (C/2013 X1)as imaged on May 11, 2016 (credit - José J. Chambó / cometografia.es)

Discovery

Comet PanSTARRS was discovered on December 4, 2013 using the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (Pan-STARRS) located at Haleakala on the island of Maui in Hawaii. At discovery it shone at a feeble magnitude +20.2.

The Pan-STARRS project is planned to use an array of four 1.8m astronomical telescopes to survey the sky continuously in the hunt for moving objects. Despite funding problems and only two of the four telescopes currently up and running the project is already producing great results and numerous asteroid and comet discoveries have been made.

Location and star charts

Apart from the first few days of the month, PanSTARRS spends May slowly moving through faint Aquarius. From the Northern Hemisphere it's visible just before sunrise low down to the southeast. From southern latitudes it appears high above the east-northeastern horizon. At about 7th magnitude it's beyond naked eye visibility but can be seen in binoculars and small scopes.

On June 4th the comet passes just west of the Helix Nebula (NGC 7293). This planetary nebula is the brightest in the sky at mag. +7.3 although due to its low surface brightness the famous Dumbbell Nebula (M27) is easier to spot despite being marginally fainter. The comet then continues on its southerly path moving into Piscis Austrinus on June 7th before cutting through Microscopium from June 14th to 19th. After that it passes briefly through Sagittarius and Telescopium before ending the month in Ara. Throughout this time it keeps excellent condition in the tropics and Southern Hemisphere but always remains low down from the Northern Hemisphere. From more northerly temperate locations such as London, England it doesn't even rise above the southern horizon during the second half of June. Closest approach to Earth occurs on June 21/22 when PanSTARRS will be 59 million miles (95 million kilometres) distant.

The finder charts below show the positions of the comet from April 28 to June 11, 2016.

Comet C/2013 X1 PanSTARRS Finder Chart from April 26 to May 28, 2016 (credit:- freestarcharts)

Comet C/2013 X1 PanSTARRS Finder Chart from April 26 to May 28, 2016 (credit:- freestarcharts) - pdf format (credit:- freestarcharts)

Comet C/2013 X1 PanSTARRS Finder Chart from May 24 to June 11, 2016 (credit:- freestarcharts)

Comet C/2013 X1 PanSTARRS Finder Chart from May 24 to June 11, 2016 (credit:- freestarcharts) - pdf format (credit:- freestarcharts)

Comet PanSTARRS (C/2013 X1) Data (at epoch April 2, 2016)

NameC/2013 X1
TypeComet
DiscovererPanSTARRS Astronomical Survey
Discovery dateDecember 4, 2013
Perihelion (AU)1.3143
Aphelion (AU)unknown
Semi-major axis (AU)unknown
Eccentricity1.0011
Orbital period (years)unknown
Inclination (degrees) 163.2314
Perihelion April 21, 2016

Comet PanSTARRS (C/2013 X1) Data Table

DateRight AscensionDeclinationMag.Distance from Earth (AU)Constellation
01-Apr-201623h 34m 22s03d 07m 60s+8.12.271Pisces
02-Apr-201623h 34m 19s03d 00m 16s+8.12.259Pisces
03-Apr-201623h 34m 15s02d 52m 28s+8.12.247Pisces
04-Apr-201623h 34m 11s02d 44m 33s+8.12.234Pisces
05-Apr-201623h 34m 06s02d 36m 33s+8.02.221Pisces
06-Apr-201623h 34m 01s02d 28m 25s+8.02.208Pisces
07-Apr-201623h 33m 55s02d 20m 10s+8.02.194Pisces
08-Apr-201623h 33m 49s02d 11m 48s+8.02.180Pisces
09-Apr-201623h 33m 43s02d 03m 17s+8.02.165Pisces
10-Apr-201623h 33m 36s01d 54m 38s+7.92.150Pisces
11-Apr-201623h 33m 28s01d 45m 49s+7.92.134Pisces
12-Apr-201623h 33m 20s01d 36m 50s+7.92.118Pisces
13-Apr-201623h 33m 11s01d 27m 41s+7.92.102Pisces
14-Apr-201623h 33m 02s01d 18m 22s+7.92.085Pisces
15-Apr-201623h 32m 51s01d 08m 50s+7.82.068Pisces
16-Apr-201623h 32m 40s00d 59m 06s+7.82.051Pisces
17-Apr-201623h 32m 29s00d 49m 10s+7.82.033Pisces
18-Apr-201623h 32m 16s00d 38m 60s+7.82.014Pisces
19-Apr-201623h 32m 03s00d 28m 35s+7.81.996Pisces
20-Apr-201623h 31m 49s00d 17m 56s+7.71.977Pisces
21-Apr-201623h 31m 34s00d 07m 00s+7.71.957Pisces
22-Apr-201623h 31m 18s-00d 04m 12s+7.71.938Pisces
23-Apr-201623h 31m 01s-00d 15m 42s+7.71.917Pisces
24-Apr-201623h 30m 42s-00d 27m 31s+7.61.897Pisces
25-Apr-201623h 30m 23s-00d 39m 39s+7.61.876Pisces
26-Apr-201623h 30m 03s-00d 52m 08s+7.61.855Pisces
27-Apr-201623h 29m 41s-01d 04m 59s+7.61.834Pisces
28-Apr-201623h 29m 18s-01d 18m 12s+7.61.812Pisces
29-Apr-201623h 28m 54s-01d 31m 50s+7.51.790Pisces
30-Apr-201623h 28m 28s-01d 45m 54s+7.51.767Pisces
01-May-201623h 28m 00s-02d 00m 24s+7.51.745Pisces
02-May-201623h 27m 31s-02d 15m 23s+7.51.722Pisces
03-May-201623h 27m 01s-02d 30m 53s+7.41.698Pisces
04-May-201623h 26m 28s-02d 46m 54s+7.41.675Pisces
05-May-201623h 25m 53s-03d 03m 29s+7.41.651Pisces
06-May-201623h 25m 17s-03d 20m 40s+7.41.627Aquarius
07-May-201623h 24m 38s-03d 38m 29s+7.31.602Aquarius
08-May-201623h 23m 57s-03d 56m 58s+7.31.578Aquarius
09-May-201623h 23m 13s-04d 16m 09s+7.31.553Aquarius
10-May-201623h 22m 27s-04d 36m 06s+7.31.528Aquarius
11-May-201623h 21m 37s-04d 56m 50s+7.21.503Aquarius
12-May-201623h 20m 45s-05d 18m 25s+7.21.477Aquarius
13-May-201623h 19m 50s-05d 40m 53s+7.21.452Aquarius
14-May-201623h 18m 51s-06d 04m 19s+7.11.426Aquarius
15-May-201623h 17m 48s-06d 28m 45s+7.11.400Aquarius
16-May-201623h 16m 42s-06d 54m 15s+7.11.374Aquarius
17-May-201623h 15m 31s-07d 20m 54s+7.11.348Aquarius
18-May-201623h 14m 16s-07d 48m 45s+7.01.322Aquarius
19-May-201623h 12m 56s-08d 17m 54s+7.01.296Aquarius
20-May-201623h 11m 31s-08d 48m 25s+7.01.270Aquarius
21-May-201623h 09m 60s-09d 20m 23s+6.91.243Aquarius
22-May-201623h 08m 23s-09d 53m 55s+6.91.217Aquarius
23-May-201623h 06m 40s-10d 29m 06s+6.91.191Aquarius
24-May-201623h 04m 50s-11d 06m 02s+6.81.164Aquarius
25-May-201623h 02m 52s-11d 44m 51s+6.81.138Aquarius
26-May-201623h 00m 46s-12d 25m 39s+6.71.112Aquarius
27-May-201622h 58m 31s-13d 08m 35s+6.71.086Aquarius
28-May-201622h 56m 06s-13d 53m 46s+6.71.060Aquarius
29-May-201622h 53m 31s-14d 41m 21s+6.61.034Aquarius
30-May-201622h 50m 44s-15d 31m 27s+6.61.009Aquarius
31-May-201622h 47m 45s-16d 24m 15s+6.50.984Aquarius
01-Jun-201622h 44m 32s-17d 19m 53s+6.50.959Aquarius
02-Jun-201622h 41m 04s-18d 18m 31s+6.50.934Aquarius
03-Jun-201622h 37m 19s-19d 20m 15s+6.40.910Aquarius
04-Jun-201622h 33m 16s-20d 25m 15s+6.40.887Aquarius
05-Jun-201622h 28m 54s-21d 33m 38s+6.30.864Aquarius
06-Jun-201622h 24m 09s-22d 45m 29s+6.30.841Aquarius
07-Jun-201622h 19m 01s-24d 00m 51s+6.30.820Aquarius
08-Jun-201622h 13m 26s-25d 19m 47s+6.20.799Piscis Austrinus
09-Jun-201622h 07m 22s-26d 42m 12s+6.20.779Piscis Austrinus
10-Jun-201622h 00m 46s-28d 08m 01s+6.10.760Piscis Austrinus
11-Jun-201621h 53m 34s-29d 36m 60s+6.10.742Piscis Austrinus
12-Jun-201621h 45m 45s-31d 08m 49s+6.10.725Piscis Austrinus
13-Jun-201621h 37m 14s-32d 43m 01s+6.00.709Piscis Austrinus
14-Jun-201621h 27m 57s-34d 18m 59s+6.00.695Piscis Austrinus
15-Jun-201621h 17m 51s-35d 55m 55s+6.00.682Microscopium
16-Jun-201621h 06m 54s-37d 32m 51s+6.00.671Microscopium
17-Jun-201620h 55m 02s-39d 08m 37s+6.00.661Microscopium
18-Jun-201620h 42m 13s-40d 41m 56s+5.90.653Microscopium
19-Jun-201620h 28m 27s-42d 11m 20s+5.90.647Microscopium
20-Jun-201620h 13m 46s-43d 35m 19s+6.00.643Sagittarius
21-Jun-201619h 58m 12s-44d 52m 19s+6.00.641Sagittarius
22-Jun-201619h 41m 51s-46d 00m 57s+6.00.641Telescopium
23-Jun-201619h 24m 51s-46d 59m 58s+6.00.642Telescopium
24-Jun-201619h 07m 24s-47d 48m 24s+6.00.646Telescopium
25-Jun-201618h 49m 42s-48d 25m 41s+6.10.652Telescopium
26-Jun-201618h 31m 59s-48d 51m 39s+6.10.660Telescopium
27-Jun-201618h 14m 29s-49d 06m 32s+6.20.669Telescopium
28-Jun-201617h 57m 25s-49d 10m 57s+6.20.681Ara
29-Jun-201617h 40m 58s-49d 05m 47s+6.30.694Ara
30-Jun-201617h 25m 17s-48d 52m 11s+6.30.708Ara
01-Jul-201617h 10m 28s-48d 31m 21s+6.40.724Ara
02-Jul-201616h 56m 36s-48d 04m 32s+6.50.742Ara
03-Jul-201616h 43m 40s-47d 32m 57s+6.50.761Ara
04-Jul-201616h 31m 42s-46d 57m 43s+6.60.781Norma
05-Jul-201616h 20m 39s-46d 19m 50s+6.70.803Norma
06-Jul-201616h 10m 29s-45d 40m 08s+6.80.825Norma
07-Jul-201616h 01m 10s-44d 59m 21s+6.90.848Norma
08-Jul-201615h 52m 36s-44d 18m 06s+6.90.873Norma
09-Jul-201615h 44m 46s-43d 36m 51s+7.00.898Lupus
10-Jul-201615h 37m 35s-42d 55m 58s+7.10.923Lupus
11-Jul-201615h 30m 59s-42d 15m 46s+7.20.950Lupus
12-Jul-201615h 24m 57s-41d 36m 29s+7.30.977Lupus
13-Jul-201615h 19m 25s-40d 58m 15s+7.31.005Lupus
14-Jul-201615h 14m 20s-40d 21m 12s+7.41.033Lupus
15-Jul-201615h 09m 40s-39d 45m 24s+7.51.061Lupus
16-Jul-201615h 05m 22s-39d 10m 54s+7.61.090Lupus
17-Jul-201615h 01m 25s-38d 37m 44s+7.61.120Centaurus
18-Jul-201614h 57m 46s-38d 05m 54s+7.71.149Centaurus
19-Jul-201614h 54m 25s-37d 35m 22s+7.81.179Centaurus
20-Jul-201614h 51m 19s-37d 06m 08s+7.91.210Centaurus
21-Jul-201614h 48m 28s-36d 38m 10s+7.91.240Centaurus
22-Jul-201614h 45m 50s-36d 11m 26s+8.01.271Centaurus
23-Jul-201614h 43m 24s-35d 45m 52s+8.11.302Centaurus
24-Jul-201614h 41m 09s-35d 21m 28s+8.11.333Centaurus
25-Jul-201614h 39m 04s-34d 58m 10s+8.21.365Centaurus
26-Jul-201614h 37m 08s-34d 35m 56s+8.31.396Centaurus
27-Jul-201614h 35m 22s-34d 14m 42s+8.41.428Centaurus
28-Jul-201614h 33m 43s-33d 54m 28s+8.41.459Centaurus
29-Jul-201614h 32m 12s-33d 35m 09s+8.51.491Centaurus
30-Jul-201614h 30m 48s-33d 16m 44s+8.51.523Centaurus
31-Jul-201614h 29m 30s-32d 59m 10s+8.61.555Centaurus
01-Aug-201614h 28m 19s-32d 42m 25s+8.71.587Centaurus
02-Aug-201614h 27m 13s-32d 26m 27s+8.71.619Centaurus
03-Aug-201614h 26m 12s-32d 11m 13s+8.81.651Centaurus
04-Aug-201614h 25m 16s-31d 56m 43s+8.81.683Centaurus
05-Aug-201614h 24m 25s-31d 42m 53s+8.91.715Centaurus
06-Aug-201614h 23m 38s-31d 29m 42s+9.01.747Centaurus
07-Aug-201614h 22m 55s-31d 17m 09s+9.01.779Centaurus
08-Aug-201614h 22m 16s-31d 05m 11s+9.11.810Centaurus
09-Aug-201614h 21m 40s-30d 53m 47s+9.11.842Centaurus
10-Aug-201614h 21m 08s-30d 42m 56s+9.21.874Centaurus
11-Aug-201614h 20m 39s-30d 32m 36s+9.21.906Centaurus
12-Aug-201614h 20m 13s-30d 22m 45s+9.31.938Centaurus
13-Aug-201614h 19m 50s-30d 13m 24s+9.31.969Centaurus
14-Aug-201614h 19m 30s-30d 04m 29s+9.42.001Hydra
15-Aug-201614h 19m 12s-29d 56m 00s+9.42.032Hydra
16-Aug-201614h 18m 56s-29d 47m 57s+9.52.064Hydra
17-Aug-201614h 18m 43s-29d 40m 17s+9.52.095Hydra
18-Aug-201614h 18m 31s-29d 33m 00s+9.62.126Hydra
19-Aug-201614h 18m 22s-29d 26m 06s+9.62.157Hydra
20-Aug-201614h 18m 15s-29d 19m 32s+9.72.188Hydra
21-Aug-201614h 18m 10s-29d 13m 19s+9.72.219Hydra
22-Aug-201614h 18m 06s-29d 07m 25s+9.82.249Hydra
23-Aug-201614h 18m 04s-29d 01m 49s+9.82.280Hydra
24-Aug-201614h 18m 04s-28d 56m 32s+9.92.310Hydra
25-Aug-201614h 18m 05s-28d 51m 32s+9.92.341Hydra
26-Aug-201614h 18m 07s-28d 46m 49s+10.02.371Hydra
27-Aug-201614h 18m 11s-28d 42m 22s+10.02.401Hydra
28-Aug-201614h 18m 17s-28d 38m 10s+10.12.431Hydra
29-Aug-201614h 18m 23s-28d 34m 13s+10.12.460Hydra
30-Aug-201614h 18m 31s-28d 30m 31s+10.12.490Hydra
31-Aug-201614h 18m 40s-28d 27m 02s+10.22.519Hydra
01-Sep-201614h 18m 50s-28d 23m 47s+10.22.548Hydra
02-Sep-201614h 19m 02s-28d 20m 45s+10.32.577Hydra
03-Sep-201614h 19m 14s-28d 17m 55s+10.32.606Hydra
04-Sep-201614h 19m 27s-28d 15m 17s+10.32.635Hydra
05-Sep-201614h 19m 41s-28d 12m 51s+10.42.663Hydra
06-Sep-201614h 19m 56s-28d 10m 36s+10.42.692Hydra
07-Sep-201614h 20m 12s-28d 08m 32s+10.52.720Hydra
08-Sep-201614h 20m 28s-28d 06m 39s+10.52.747Hydra
09-Sep-201614h 20m 46s-28d 04m 56s+10.52.775Hydra
10-Sep-201614h 21m 04s-28d 03m 22s+10.62.803Hydra
11-Sep-201614h 21m 23s-28d 01m 58s+10.62.830Hydra
12-Sep-201614h 21m 43s-28d 00m 43s+10.62.857Hydra
13-Sep-201614h 22m 03s-27d 59m 37s+10.72.884Hydra
14-Sep-201614h 22m 24s-27d 58m 39s+10.72.910Hydra
15-Sep-201614h 22m 45s-27d 57m 50s+10.72.937Hydra
16-Sep-201614h 23m 07s-27d 57m 09s+10.82.963Hydra
17-Sep-201614h 23m 30s-27d 56m 36s+10.82.989Hydra
18-Sep-201614h 23m 53s-27d 56m 10s+10.83.014Hydra
19-Sep-201614h 24m 16s-27d 55m 51s+10.93.040Hydra
20-Sep-201614h 24m 41s-27d 55m 40s+10.93.065Hydra
21-Sep-201614h 25m 05s-27d 55m 35s+10.93.090Hydra
22-Sep-201614h 25m 30s-27d 55m 37s+11.03.115Hydra
23-Sep-201614h 25m 56s-27d 55m 46s+11.03.139Hydra
24-Sep-201614h 26m 22s-27d 56m 00s+11.03.164Hydra
25-Sep-201614h 26m 48s-27d 56m 21s+11.13.188Hydra
26-Sep-201614h 27m 15s-27d 56m 49s+11.13.211Hydra
27-Sep-201614h 27m 42s-27d 57m 21s+11.13.235Hydra
28-Sep-201614h 28m 09s-27d 57m 60s+11.23.258Hydra
29-Sep-201614h 28m 37s-27d 58m 44s+11.23.281Hydra
30-Sep-201614h 29m 05s-27d 59m 33s+11.23.304Hydra

See also

Comet PanSTARRS visible during June with binoculars and small telescopes. Best seen from southern and tropical latitudes.