From Astronomy Now: “See a trio of comets in the April sky”

Astronomy Now bloc

Astronomy Now

2 April 2017
Ade Ashford

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Comet 41P/Tuttle–Giacobini–Kresák in the constellation of Draco was about magnitude +6.5 on the night of 1-2 April when captured in this three-minute integration with a colour Starlight Xpress Ultrastar camera at the f/2 HyperStar focus of the author’s Celestron C11 Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope. AN image by Ade Ashford.

Despite the glow of a waxing Moon, early April is a good time to catch a glimpse of two interesting comets that are currently circumpolar from the British Isles, meaning that they are sufficiently close to the North Celestial Pole such that they neither rise or set, visible throughout the hours of darkness.

Comet 41P/Tuttle–Giacobini–Kresák, a periodic comet that orbits the Sun every 5.4 years, is predicted to fade from magnitude +6.7 to +7.6 during the month. Comet 41P passes just 0.6 degrees north of Thuban, otherwise known as alpha (α) Draconis, at 2am BST on 3 April. By 11 April, 41P lies between eta (η) and theta (θ) Draconis; then the comet passes just 0.6 degrees from beta (β) Draconis – the magnitude +2.8 star known as Rastaban in the head of the celestial dragon – eight days later.

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Comets 41P/Tuttle–Giacobini–Kresák in Draco and C/2015 V2 (Johnson) in Hercules are very well placed for Northern Hemisphere observers during April — particularly in the dark of the Moon. Click on the graphic for a detailed PDF finder chart suitable for printing and use outside at the telescope. AN graphic and finder chart by Ade Ashford.

Comet 41P crosses the border into neighbouring Hercules on 20 April, a constellation where another bright comet resides this month. C/2015 V2 (Johnson) is a hyperbolic comet destined to leave the Solar System but predicted to brighten a full magnitude to +7.4 by the end of April. C/2015 V2 lies between naked-eye stars tau (τ) and upsilon (υ) Herculis at 12am BST on 22 April, and between the latter and phi (φ) Herculis on 25 April.

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Displaying more of a tail than Comet 41P, C/2015 V2 (Johnson) in the constellation of Hercules was about magnitude +8 on the night of 1-2 April when captured in this seven-minute integration with a colour Starlight Xpress Ultrastar camera at the f/2 HyperStar focus of the author’s Celestron C11 Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope. AN image by Ade Ashford.

There’s also a bright comet in the morning sky. C/2017 E4 (Lovejoy) was discovered by Australian comet hunter Terry Lovejoy last month and is currently a seventh-magnitude object in eastern Pegasus, currently some 7 degrees northeast of magnitude +2.4 star epsilon (ε) Pegasi, otherwise known as Enif. C/2017 E4 (Lovejoy) presently rises in the east-northeast around 3am BST from the British Isles.

See the full article here .

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