Sunday, 2 August 2015

A Southern Comet in August - C/2013 US10 Catalina

C/2013 US10 Catalina (Click to Enlarge. Map created wit Skytools3

Source: Richard S Pearson

In 2013 we had comet ISON which put on a splendid display in the winter sky travelling along it's celestial path. ISON then embarked on a perilous journey towards the center of our solar system. ISON came to perihelion on 28 November of that year and broke apart due to the Sun's immense heat and tidal forces. That was the last we seen of this Christmas comet.
In the autumn of 2013 as comet ISON was putting on a display for amateur astronomers in the northern hemisphere, and the media were gearing up in preparation for a spectacular view of the comet in the first days of December, astronomer R. A. Kowalski identified a new comet; C/2013 US10 from images using a 0.68-meter (27 in) Schmidt–Cassegrain telescope of the Catalina Sky Survey.
C/2013 US10 Catalina was then at Mag +19 and very faint. It is a long period comet originating from the region of the Oort's Cloud with an orbital period of 7 million years. The Oort's cloud lies far beyond the orbit of Pluto.
Since then it has travelled in towards the Sun, and today (2 August) it lies 106,900 miles from the Earth, and is putting on a show for amateur astronomers living in the southern hemisphere. At the beginning of August comet Catalina is in the constellation of Tucana, and will pass through the adjacent constellation of Pavo from 8 -18 August, before moving through the constellation Apus during the end of the month.
During August the comet is easily within range of a pair of 10x50 binoculars. It is now shining at Mag +7.0 and will brighten to Mag +6.5 by 31 August.