The charts below show positions calculated for 0h UT on the indicated dates from the latest osculating elements given in the Minor Planet Centre'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 bug has been fixed which was causing star magnitudes to be always shown as variable in the interactive red boxes.
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.
Periodic comets, in numerical order
- 17P/Holmes T = 2014 Mar 27
- 17P/Holmes 2014 Mar 1 - Apr 1 (Aqr → Psc)
- 17P/Holmes 2014 Apr 1 - May 1 (Psc)
- 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann T = 2019 Apr 15
- 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 2014 Feb 1 - Apr 1 (Sco)
- 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 2014 Apr 1 - Jun 1 (Sco → Lib)
- 119P/Parker-Hartley T = 2014 Apr 2
- 119P/Parker-Hartley 2014 Mar 1 - Apr 1 (Ari)
- 119P/Parker-Hartley 2014 Apr 1 - May 1 (Ari → Tau)
- 124P/Mrkos T = 2014 Apr 9
- 124P/Mrkos 2014 Mar 16 - Apr 1 (Leo)
- 124P/Mrkos 2014 Apr 1 - Apr 16 (Leo → Sex)
- 124P/Mrkos 2014 Apr 16 - May 1 (Sex)
- 154P/Brewington T = 2013 Dec 12
- 154P/Brewington 2014 Mar 16 - Apr 1 (Per)
- 154P/Brewington 2014 Apr 1 - Apr 16 (Per → Aur)
- 154P/Brewington 2014 Apr 16 - May 1 (Aur)
Passing near M38 on the evening of Apr 29
- 290P/Jager T = 2014 Mar 12
- 290P/Jager 2014 Mar 16 - Apr 1 (Gem)
- 290P/Jager 2014 Apr 1 - Apr 16 (Gem)
- 290P/Jager 2014 Apr 16 - May 1 (Gem)
Other comets, in order of discovery
- C/2011 J2 (LINEAR) T = 2013 Dec 25
- C/2011 J2 (LINEAR) 2014 Mar 16 - Apr 1 (Cas)
- C/2011 J2 (LINEAR) 2014 Apr 1 - May 1 (Cas)
- C/2012 K1 (Pan-STARRS) T = 2014 Aug 27
- C/2012 K1 (PANSTARRS) 2014 Mar 16 - Apr 1(Her → CrB)
- C/2012 K1 (PANSTARRS) 2014 Apr 1 - Apr 16 (CrB → Boo)
- C/2012 K1 (PANSTARRS) 2014 Apr 16 - May 1 (Boo → UMa/CVn)
- C/2012 V2 (LINEAR) T = 2013 Aug 16
- C/2012 V2 (LINEAR) 2014 Mar 1 - Apr 1 (TrA)
- C/2012 V2 (LINEAR) 2014 Apr 1 - Apr 16 (TrA)
- C/2012 V2 (LINEAR) 2014 Apr 16 - May 1 (TrA)
- C/2012 X1 (LINEAR) T = 2014 Feb 21
- C/2012 X1 (LINEAR) 2014 Mar 16 - Apr 1 (Aql)
- C/2012 X1 (LINEAR) 2014 Apr 1 - Apr 16 (Aqr)
- C/2012 X1 (LINEAR) 2014 Apr 16 - May 1 (Aqr)
- C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring) T = 2014 Oct 25
- C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring) 2014 Mar 28 - May 1 (For → Eri)
- C/2013 N4 (Borisov) T = 2013 Aug 21
- C/2013 N4 (Borisov) 2014 Mar 1 - Apr 1 (Cen)
- C/2013 R1 (Lovejoy) T = 2013 Dec 22
- C/2013 R1 (Lovejoy) 2014 Mar 1 - Apr 1 (Ser → Sct)
- C/2013 R1 (Lovejoy) 2014 Apr 1 - May 1 (Sct)
- C/2013 V1 (Boattini) T = 2014 Apr 21
- C/2013 V1 (Boattini) 2014 Mar 16 - Mar 24 (Per)
- C/2013 V1 (Boattini) 2014 Mar 24 - Apr 1 (Per)
- C/2013 V1 (Boattini) 2014 Apr 1 - Apr 11 (Per)
- C/2013 V1 (Boattini) 2014 Apr 11 - Apr 21 (Per)
- C/2013 V1 (Boattini) 2014 Apr 21 - May 1 (Per → Cam)
- C/2013 V2 (Borisov) T = 2014 Oct 14
- C/2013 V2 (Borisov) 2014 Mar 1 - Apr 1 (Cam → Aur)
- C/2013 V2 (Borisov) 2014 Apr 1 - May 1 (Aur)
- C/2013 V3 (Nevski) T = 2013 Oct 29
- C/2013 V3 (Nevski) 2014 Mar 1 - Apr 1 (UMa)
- C/2013 V3 (Nevski) 2014 Apr 1 - May 1 (UMa → LMi)
- C/2014 E2 (Jacques) T = 2014 Jul 2
- C/2014 E2 (Jacques) 2014 Mar 28 - Apr 10 (Ant → Pyx)
- C/2014 E2 (Jacques) 2014 Apr 10 - Apr 21 (Pyx → Pup)
- C/2014 E2 (Jacques) 2014 Apr 21 - May 1 (Pup → Mon)
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.