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Spot comet Catalina this weekend

Comet Catalina has crossed into Northern Hemisphere skies and is now visible through binoculars.
CatalinaDec
Astronomy: Roen Kelly
Comet Catalina (C/2013 US10) has brightened to 6th magnitude and appears nice through binoculars and telescopes for those up before the Sun.

The comet lies in eastern Virgo, a region that rises shortly after 3 a.m. local time and climbs some 30° high in the southeast by the time twilight begins. On the morning of December 12, Catalina stands 2° due north of 4th-magnitude Iota (ι) Virginis.

For the next week or so, Moon-free skies will let observers get detailed views of the comet’s dust and gas tails. From our perspective, the two tails appear distinct.

Although the comet’s surface remains hidden by a veil of dust, the surrounding coma may show a greenish hue.

The Moon returns to the morning sky in late December as Catalina sets its sights on ­brilliant Arcturus. It will then continue to climb northward for the next few weeks and will pass within 1° of Arcturus in early January.

 

Chris Schur
Comet Catalina is now easily visible in binoculars, but spotting its double-tailed appearance still requires a long exposure. Chris Schur took this 30-minute exposure December 6 from Payson, Arizona, using a Stellarvue SV80S refactor with a Canon XTi camera at ISO800.
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