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Comet LINEAR produced a major outburst in October and suddenly brightened by over 100 times to magnitude +8.5 and hence within binocular and small telescope range. Since then the comet has been stable, no more major outbursts and only marginally changing in brightness. With the comet heading towards a February 2014 perihelion date, it remains on course to reach naked eye visibility early next year.

Location, magnitude and star chart

LINEAR moved into the northern constellation of Boötes in early November and remains there until December 6th. During this time the comet moves slowly in a southeasterly direction against the fixed background stars. It then passes into Serpens Caput (the northern part of split constellation of Serpens) before entering Hercules on December 26th.

During November, LINEAR was visible with large binoculars (e.g. 20x80s) and small telescopes, appearing diffuse, but not too difficult to see. Now into December, LINEAR is expected to brighten gradually and should be visible with common 7x50 or 10x50 binoculars by the end of the year.

From northern temperate latitudes, LINEAR is well placed for observation towards the east before sunrise. It's also visible from the tropics, although much closer to the horizon. Unfortunately, from the Southern Hemisphere, LINEAR is not observable until February 2014.

The finder chart below shows the positions of comet LINEAR from November 16 to December 28, 2013.

Comet LINEAR (C/2012 X1) Finder Chart from November 16 to December 28, 2013

Comet LINEAR (C/2012 X1) Finder Chart from November 16 to December 28, 2013 - pdf format

C/2012 X1 (LINEAR) Data (at epoch March 11, 2013)

NameC/2012 X1 (LINEAR)
DiscovererLincoln Near Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR)
Discovery dateDecember 8, 2012
Aphelion (AU)302.148
Perihelion (AU)1.59934
Semi-major axis151.874
Orbital period (years)1871.68
Inclination (degrees) 44.3653
Longitude of ascending node (degrees)113.145
Perihelion February 21, 2014
NotesSudden outburst on October 20, 2013. Brightened by over 5 magnitudes

Comet LINEAR (C/2012 X1) Data Table

DateRight AscensionDeclinationEstimated MagnitudeDistance from Earth (AU)Constellation
01 Dec 201314h 55m 38s17d 21m 06s8.22.504Boötes
02 Dec 201314h 58m 33s17d 09m 15s8.22.494Boötes
03 Dec 201315h 01m 29s16d 57m 22s8.22.484Boötes
04 Dec 201315h 04m 25s16d 45m 28s8.12.474Boötes
05 Dec 201315h 07m 22s16d 33m 32s8.12.464Boötes
06 Dec 201315h 10m 19s16d 21m 35s8.12.455Boötes
07 Dec 201315h 13m 16s16d 09m 35s8.02.445Serpens Caput
08 Dec 201315h 16m 14s15d 57m 35s8.02.436Serpens Caput
09 Dec 201315h 19m 12s15d 45m 33s8.02.426Serpens Caput
10 Dec 201315h 22m 11s15d 33m 30s7.92.417Serpens Caput
11 Dec 201315h 25m 10s15d 21m 25s7.92.408Serpens Caput
12 Dec 201315h 28m 09s15d 09m 19s7.92.399Serpens Caput
13 Dec 201315h 31m 09s14d 57m 13s7.92.390Serpens Caput
14 Dec 201315h 34m 09s14d 45m 05s7.82.382Serpens Caput
15 Dec 201315h 37m 09s14d 32m 57s7.82.373Serpens Caput
16 Dec 201315h 40m 10s14d 20m 47s7.82.365Serpens Caput
17 Dec 201315h 43m 10s14d 08m 37s7.72.356Serpens Caput
18 Dec 201315h 46m 12s13d 56m 27s7.72.348Serpens Caput
19 Dec 201315h 49m 13s13d 44m 16s7.72.340Serpens Caput
20 Dec 201315h 52m 15s13d 32m 05s7.72.332Serpens Caput
21 Dec 201315h 55m 16s13d 19m 54s7.62.324Serpens Caput
22 Dec 201315h 58m 18s13d 07m 42s7.62.316Serpens Caput
23 Dec 201316h 01m 21s12d 55m 31s7.62.309Serpens Caput
24 Dec 201316h 04m 23s12d 43m 20s7.52.301Serpens Caput
25 Dec 201316h 07m 26s12d 31m 09s7.52.294Serpens Caput
26 Dec 201316h 10m 28s12d 18m 58s7.52.287Serpens Caput
27 Dec 201316h 13m 31s12d 06m 49s7.52.280Hercules
28 Dec 201316h 16m 34s11d 54m 39s7.42.273Hercules
29 Dec 201316h 19m 37s11d 42m 31s7.42.266Hercules
30 Dec 201316h 22m 40s11d 30m 23s7.42.259Hercules
31 Dec 201316h 25m 43s11d 18m 17s7.42.253Hercules

See also

Comet LINEAR (C/2012 X1) bursts into view