Comet Jacques jack-rabbits thru northern sky in August

Aug 19

Written by:
8/19/2014 12:59 PM  RssIcon

There aren't a whole lot of comets that are terribly bright right now, but one is making a rather rapid beeline up the northern sky. And a couple of days this month, it will be very close to some rather well-known and easy to find stars. That should make locating the comet quite a bit easier. 

Here's an animated GIF detailing where this comet will be from now through the end of August.

Comet Jacques animated GIF for August 2014

A caveat: This comet is NOT all that bright. It peaked last month in July at around magnitude 5.7, which is fairly bright for many comets that are visible on any given night. But it starts this series of images on August 19 at magnitude 8.3 or so, and will likely drop at least a half to a full magnidue by August 30 that ends this animgated gif. 

You'll probably need an 8" scope or larger; obviously moderately dark skies will help even more for spotting it. An 8" scope isn't exactly the huge investment it was in the 1950's or 1960's, so plenty of people should have an opportunity here.  That doesn't make for a "WOW! A comet!" type moment, but some observers like these solar system interlopers. 

Comet C/2014 E2 Jacques at least helps us somewhat by gliding past places in the sky with decently bright stars. In particular, note the position of the comet less than a half a degree from Epsilon Cassiopeia on the night of August 21 / morning of August 22. Later it is less than 3 degrees from Iota Cephei late 8/27 into early morning 8/28. It ends the month in IC 1396 near Mu Cephei, just 2/3 of a degree from the red giant star. 

There's more information over at the comet chasing page of skyhound.com and they also have an easily printable PDF chart to find Comet Jacques.

There's a lot more here on Eyes on the Sky. For example, every week on the homepage there is a new astronomy video about observing objects in the night sky. They're only 5 minutes long - why not check out the latest one right now?

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The Nightlight

This blog includes what to see in the night and daytime skies, thoughts on telescopes, binoculars, and other astronomy observing accessories and equipment, plus my own occasional notes on objects I've seen and observed. Oh, and the random theater or other "my take on life" post. In other words, there is always something interesting. Check it out.