June comets

Sky at Night Magazine - - THE SKY GUIDE -

WHEN: All month, but best con­di­tions will likely be in the sec­ond half of June, when the Moon is out of the way The first half of 2017 has been good for binoc­u­lar comets and we’ve been fol­low­ing sev­eral over re­cent months. Dur­ing June and July there’s a fi­nal op­por­tu­nity to catch comet C/2015 V2 John­son from the UK, be­fore it dis­ap­pears be­low the hori­zon. This comet is pre­dicted to be bright­est dur­ing the first week of June when it should reach mag. +6.7. By the end of the month it will have dimmed only slightly to mag. +7.0 which still keeps it within binoc­u­lar range. The Moon won’t help mat­ters dur­ing the first half of June, but af­ter the 13th it should be pos­si­ble to dodge any se­ri­ous in­ter­fer­ence.

At the start of June it is ap­prox­i­mately 5º south of mag. +2.5 Izar (Ep­silon (¡) Boötis), af­ter which it passes south to sit roughly 4º east of mag. +0.2 Arc­turus (Al­pha (_) Boötis) on 5 and 6 June. It ap­pears a lit­tle over 2º west of mag. +4.5

Zeta Boötis at 01:00 BST (00:00 UT) on 9 June. Cen­tre Zeta in a pair of binoc­u­lars and the comet should ap­pear as a smudge at the 3 o’clock po­si­tion.

On 15 June, C2015 V2 John­son slips over the bor­der into Virgo. It crosses

the imag­i­nary line be­tween the stars 109 Vir­gi­nis and Tau (o) Vir­gi­nis (mag. +3.7 and mag. +4.2) on the night of 19 June. Con­tin­u­ing south, its jour­ney takes it 0.5º west of mag. +4.1 Iota (f) Vir­gi­nis at 12:00 BST (11:00 UT) on 27 June. From the UK it ap­pears 0.66º north­west of Iota at 01:00 BST (00:00 UT) on 27 June, and 1º south­west of it at the same time on 28 June.

The comet con­tin­ues its southerly plunge through­out July and will prob­a­bly be lost from view in the UK from the third week of July on­wards. On the night of the 1st it passes ex­tremely close to mag. +4.2 Kappa (g) Vir­gi­nis. Clos­est ap­proach is around 22:30 BST (21:30 UT) when the comet will be ap­prox­i­mately 1 ar­cminute to the east of this star.

Comet 71P/Clark will present more of a chal­lenge, but its prox­im­ity to mag. +1.0 Antares (Al­pha (_) Scor­pii) should help. At mag. +11.8, the comet is a tele­scope ob­ject and is slightly less than 2º east-south­east of bright Antares at 01:00 BST (00:00 UT) on 1 June. At 01:00 BST (00:00 UT) on 4 June it passes be­tween Antares and mag. +2.8 Tau

(o) Scor­pii, cross­ing the imag­i­nary line join­ing them, four-fifths of the way along from Antares.

C/2015 V2 John­son passes from Boötes through Virgo as it van­ishes from UK hori­zons

Comet 71P/Clark is close to Antares in early June; the bright star should help you find it

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