Archive for March 19, 2017

03/19/2017 – Ephemeris Extra – Comet 41P/Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresak is within reach of binoculars and small telescopes

March 19, 2017 Comments off


Comet 41P finder chart

Comet 41P finder chart for the next month, March 20 to April 19. It is expected to be brightest at magnitude 6.6 in early April. Comet positions and orientation in the northeast are for 11:30 p.m. on the date specified or 3:30 UT on the next date. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).  Click on the chart to enlarge.

Note above:  The tail symbol points to the direction of a tail.  However none of the photographs I’ve seen show a tail, so none will be visible visually.

This comet is known to have frequent outbursts where its brightness increases by many times.  If an outburst occurs in early April, the comet could become visible to the naked eye.   Original source material for this post comes from Seiichi Yoshida’s Weekly Information about Bright Comets web page.  The comet will pass less than 14 million miles (22 million km) from Earth on April 5th, only 8 days before it’s closest approach to the Sun, called perihelion.  From the finder chart one can see the comet will pass to the north of the Earth.

According to Gary Kronk’s web site the comet was discovered and lost three times.  It was first discovered in 1858 by Horace Tuttle, whose name was attached to at two well known comets that produce meteor showers.  It was unobserved for the next eight returns, which were expected every 5.42 years.  Michel Giacobini rediscovered it again in 1907.  Giacobini was the discoverer of Comet Giacobini-Zinner, another famous meteor shower producing comet.  It was lost again until Lubos Kresák rediscovered it in 1951 after seven more missed returns.