Welcome to the Comet Report which is a monthly or seasonal article on the observations of comets by the amateur astronomy community and comet hunters from around the world! This article is dedicated to the latest reports of available comets for observations, current state of those comets, future predictions, & projections for observations in comet astronomy!
– Justin McCollum
(Download both versions or either one from the following links below.)
PDF Form: Professor Comet Report 2016 Special!
PPT Form: Professor Comet Report 2016 Special!
From the NASA/JPL Small Bodies Dynamics Browser for Minor Planets!
(This is composite of the two comets undergoing their consecutive perigee passages during a one month period!)
This is an animated Gif!
2016 Special Comet Report – A Tale of Two Comets!
Hello Fellow Astronomers,
The Professor Comet Report has returned after a long hiatus! This time we have the ‘Tale of Two Comets’ 252P/LINEAR and P/2016 BA14 (PanSTARRS). These two comets flying past Earth over consecutive nights from 20 – 23 March 2016 with 252P/LINEAR making it closest rendezvous with Earth during the period from 20 – 22 March 2016 its time of perigee passage reaching a peak visibility of visual magnitude 4.8 and P/2016 BA14 (PanSTARRS) during the period of 21 – 23 March 2016. These two comets follow similar orbital paths as these two comets begin there periodic motion about the Sun which is a possible indication that the PanSTARRS comet could be a fragment of 252P/LINEAR while passing by the gravitational influence of Jupiter. This is a possibility of this LINEAR comet underwent the same situation which befell Shoemaker – Levy 9 in July 1992 when it suffered fragmentation due to the gravitational tidal effects from Jupiter before colliding with the same Jupiter on 16 – 22 July 1994.
Although by the time of this report the two comets have already past their perihelion passage with the Earth, but both comets are still visible to observe although challenging with the week of 20 – 26 March 2016 under the interference of the Full Moon of Early Spring! Comet 252P/Earth is now visible to Astronomers in the Northern Hemisphere as it moving northward through the ‘main – body’ of the constellation of Ophiuchus although it is only visible at altitudes above 30° only about a hour before Sunrise (~5:00 – 5:30) am CDT! The need to see it at a much higher altitude to provide less of the atmosphere to observe through given that the comet will be mid-12th magnitude by the beginning of April. The comet fragment (possibly) P/2016 BA14 (PanSTARRS) is now visible before midnight low in the Eastern region of the Spring Celestial Skies moving NNE to NE from Leo to Leo Minor in the time period closest to Earth (its perigee passage) and will soon move between the ‘Big Dipper’ asterism of Ursa Major and Canes Venatici from the 23 through 1 April on its path towards the easterly constellation neighbor Boötes!
The Report is now posted above in both PDF and PPT (powerpoint) format since the PPT will have an animated gif showing the ‘time – lapse’ simulated motion of the two comets in their consecutive perigee passages of the planet Earth during a time span from (1 March – 1 April) 2016. The animated gif comes from the application of data provided and in courtesy of the NASA/JPL Small Body Dynamics Browser for plotting, astrometry, and mapping the orbital elements of the Solar System’s minor planets!
Please be aware that the animated gif is ‘non – functional’ in the PDF format!
2016 NHAC Webmaster