The charts below show positions calculated for 0h UT on the indicated dates from the latest osculating elements given in the Minor Planet Center's database. Star data are from the Hipparcos/Tycho databases. The selection of comets is mainly derived from the summary on the web site of the BAA Comet Section.
The charts are interactive to assist with magnitude estimation. There is further explanation at the bottom of this page.
next to a chart provides a link to a red-on-black version, for display while observing.
Messier and NGC objects are marked on the charts by small squares.
The time, T, of (the nearest) perihelion is given for each comet.
NEW 2014 Jan 26: Charts starting Feb 1 onwards have some new features:
- The interactive ephemeris data (in blue, when your mouse is near the comet's track) now include the phase, the angle between the vectors from the comet to the Sun and to the Earth.
- The deep sky objects (small black squares) no longer have NGC labels. It was a long job arranging them to avoid obscuring things. Only Messier objects are now labelled. It would be possible to further modify charts in future to show NGC labels interactively if anyone needs that.
A chart for any object at any one date & time can also be plotted from our "What's observable" applet, including comets not listed here.
NOTE: T = Date of Perihelion
Periodic comets, in numerical order
- 10P/Tempel T = 2015 Nov. 14
- 10P/Tempel 2015 Nov 1 - Nov 10
- 10P/Tempel 2015 Nov 10 - Nov 20
- 10P/Tempel 2015 Nov 20 - Nov 30
- 10P/Tempel 2015 Dec 1 - Dec 30
- 10P/Tempel 2016 Jan 1 - Jan 30
- 19P/Borrelly T = 2015 May 28
- 19P/Borrelly 2015 Nov 1 - Nov 30
- 19P/Borrelly 2015 Dec 1 - Dec 30
- 19P/Borrelly 2016 Jan 1 - Jan 30
- 22P/Kopff T = 2015 Oct. 25
- 22P/Kopff 2015 Nov 1 - Nov 15
- 22P/Kopff 2015 Nov 16 - Nov 30
- 22P/Kopff 2015 Dec 1 - Dec 31
- 22P/Kopff 2016 Jan 1 - Jan 31
- 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann T = 2019 Apr. 15
- 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 2015 Nov 1 - Dec 1
- 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 2015 Dec 1 - Dec 31
- 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 2016 Jan 1 - Jan 31
- 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko T = 2015 Aug. 13
- 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko 2015 Nov 1 - Dec 1
- 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko 2015 Dec 1 - Dec 31
- 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko 2016 Jan 1 - Jan 31
- 88P/Howell T = 2015 Apr. 06
- 88P/Howell 2015 Nov 1 - Nov 30
- 88P/Howell 2015 Dec 1 - Dec 31
- 88P/Howell 2016 Jan 1 - Jan 31
Other comets, in order of discovery
- C/2011 KP36 (Spacewatch) T = 2016 May 26
- C/2011 KP36 (Spacewatch) 2015 Nov 1 - Dec 1
- C/2011 KP36 (Spacewatch) 2015 Dec 1 - Dec 31
- C/2011 KP36 (Spacewatch) 2016 Jan 1 - Jan 31
- C/2013 US10 (Catalina) T = 2014 Jul. 05
- C/2013 US10 (Catalina) 2015 Nov 1 - Dec 1
- C/2013 US10 (Catalina) 2015 Dec 1 - Dec 10
- C/2013 US10 (Catalina) 2015 Dec 11 - Dec 20
- C/2013 US10 (Catalina) 2015 Dec 21 - Dec 31
- C/2013 US10 (Catalina) 2016 Jan 1 - Jan 10
- C/2013 US10 (Catalina) 2016 Jan 11 - Jan 20
- C/2014 S2 (Pan-STARRS) T = 2015 Dec. 9
- C/2014 S2 (PANSTARRS) 2015 Nov 1 - Nov 15
- C/2014 S2 (PANSTARRS) 2015 Nov 15 - Nov 30
- C/2014 S2 (PANSTARRS) 2015 Dec 1 - Dec 15
- C/2014 S2 (PANSTARRS) 2015 Dec 16 - Dec 31
- C/2014 S2 (PANSTARRS) 2016 Jan 1 - Jan 31
As you move the mouse over a chart certain data for the nearest star are displayed below it:
- Star id (Flamsteed/Bayer or H... Hipparcos or T... Tycho)
- V magnitude (+ "variable" if the star is variable in the Hipparcos/Tycho data)
- B - V (colour index; just a few stars do not have the data for this)
The id is given so that further information can be found elsewhere if desired.
V magnitude is given to enable visual comet magnitude estimation using the defocussing technique (see J.Shanklin, BAA Observing Guide to Comets, 2002).
B - V is given so that stars with a similar colour index to the Sun can be used. Dust comets are reflecting sunlight so comparison magnitudes need to be for similar stars. The Sun's B - V value is reckoned to be 0.66 (see David F. Gray, The inferred colour index of the Sun, 1992).
The chart also displays green boxes around the most Sun-like stars: those in the range 0.60 < B - V < 0.72.
If your mouse is nearer to a 0h UT point along the comet's track than to a star you will see some ephemeris data in blue.
If you print the chart you will not get the star data. The idea is that you select the stars you want and make a separate note of their characteristics, perhaps written on the print. However, if you save the whole page from your browser you should be able to view it from disc with the full interaction.
The interactivity is not yet in the red-on-black versions of the charts but that will come soon.