Its the last comet of 2015, and the first comet of 2016. Comet Catalina or also known as C2013 US10 is still visable in the
morning sky through December and into January.
It can be found in the southeastern sky before sunrise. In terms of
visibility, it’s a fifth or sixth magnitude object, which from the
city and suburbs is virtually impossible to see with the naked eye –
but in practical terms, you’ll be able to find the the fuzzy-looking
comet with binoculars.
The comet came to perihelion, closest approach to the Sun on 15
November 2015 at a distance of 0.82 AU from the Sun.
At perihelion, it had a velocity of (104,000 mph per second with
respect to the Sun which is slightly greater than the Sun’s escape
velocity at that distance.
It crosses the celestial equator on 17 December 2015 becoming a
northern hemisphere object. On 17 January 2016 the comet will pass
0.72 AU or 67,000,000 miles from Earth and should be around magnitude
5.5 while located in the constellation of Ursa Major.
Look to the southeast to left side of the brilliant planet Venus,
about an hour before sunrise. In Washington, D.C., the sun rises at
7:13 a.m. Venus, currently in the constellation Virgo, is a negative
fourth magnitude object, extraordinarily bright and easy to spot – as
it looks like the high beam headlight on a car compared to the comet.
Above Venus is the much-dimmer planet Mars that appears with a hint
of red color.
The icy comet is expected to loiter in the morning heavens for about
the next five weeks. On Jan. 1, the comet will appear next to the
star Arcturus, in the constellation Bootes. “The comet will likely,
slowly fade, or it could brighten up, as comets are notoriously
Comet Catalina was discovered in 2013 by the Catalina Sky Survey,
near Tucson, Arizona.