Comet Section        


December 4, 2022 – ALPO Comet News for December 2022

December sees our focus shift to comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF). It is very possible that this comet will be the brightest comet in 2023. While not expected to be a Great Comet, it should become a nice borderline naked eye object in January and February. Unlike many comets that are at their best close to the horizon in twilight, ZTF will be placed high up in a dark sky, first for northern hemisphere observers and then starting in February for the southern hemisphere.

This month, ZTF is a rapidly brightening object starting the month around magnitude 8.6 and finishing the year around 6.9. If it continues its recent brightening trend, it could be a 4th magnitude object at its best.

A few more comets are expected to be brighter than magnitude 10 in December. Northern hemisphere observers can observe C/2020 V2 (ZTF) at 9th magnitude and C/2022 A2 (PANSTARRS) at 9-10th magnitude while southern observers have C/2017 K2 (PANSTARRS) at magnitude 8.

Among the fainter targets, 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann has once again experienced a series of major outbursts and is currently a 11th magnitude object near opposition in Gemini/Auriga.

Last month the ALPO Comets Section received 95 magnitude estimates and 42 images/sketches of comets C/2022 P1 (NEOWISE), C/2022 E3 (ZTF), C/2022 A2 (PANSTARRS), C/2021 Y1 (ATLAS), C/2021 X1 (Maury-Attard), C/2021 T4 (Lemmon), C/2021 E3 (ZTF), C/2020 Y2 (ATLAS), C/2020 V2 (ZTF), C/2019 L3 (ATLAS), C/2017 K2 (PANSTARRS), 119P/Parker-Hartley, 118P/Shoemaker-Levy, 117P/Helin-Roman-Alu, 107P/Wilson-Harrington, 81P/Wild, 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann, 61P/Shajn-Schaldach, and 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann. A big thanks to our recent contributors: Dan Bartlett, Todd Bossaller, Denis Buczynski, Jef DeWit, J. J. Gonzalez, Jose Guilherme de Souza Aguiar, Christian Harder, Carl Hergenrother, Martin Mobberley, Uwe Pilz, Gregg, Ruppel, Tenho Tuomi, and Chris Wyatt.

The monthly ALPO Comet News PDF can be foundĀ here. A shorter version of this report is posted on a dedicatedĀ Cloudy Nights forum. All are encouraged to join the discussion over at Cloudy Nights.

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