Comet Section        


March 1, 2024 – ALPO Comet News for March 2024

March will be all about comet 12P/Pons-Brooks, at least for those of us in the northern hemisphere. While the comet will be at perihelion and a bit brighter and more active in April, March will be the last month to observe the comet in a dark sky at a reasonable elevation. The comet starts March at 6th magnitude and could be as bright as 4th magnitude by the end of the month. I suspect that observers under a dark sky will report naked-eye observations. The comet is also proving to be very photogenic with a multi-degree long gas tail already easily imaged.

Pons-Brooks isn’t the only comet to observe in March. The following will be visible from both hemispheres. In the evening sky, we have 144P/Kushida fading from 9th to 11th magnitude. 12P/Pons-Brooks isn’t the only Halley-family comet in the evening sky. 13P/Olbers will be visible brightening from 11th to 10th magnitude.

Near opposition, 62P/Tsuchinshan will be fading from 10th to 13th magnitude. The morning sky sees two reasonably bright long-period comets; C/2021 S3 (PANSTARRS) will be around 9th magnitude, and incoming C/2023 A3 (Tsuchinshan-ATLAS) will brighten from 12th to 11th magnitude.

Last month, the ALPO Comets Section received 147 images and 71 magnitude estimates of 30 comets: C/2024 B2 (Lemmon), C/2023 A3 (Tsuchinshan-ATLAS), C/2022 E2 (ATLAS), C/2021 T4 (Lemmon), C/2021 S3 (PANSTARRS), C/2021 G2 (ATLAS), C/2020 V2 (ZTF), C/2020 S4 (PANSTARRS), C/2020 K1 (PANSTARRS), C/2019 U5 (PANSTARRS), C/2017 K2 (PANSTARRS), 479P/Elenin, 475P/Spacewatch-LINEAR, 473P/NEAT, 244P/Scotti, 234P/LINEAR, 227P/Catalina-LINEAR, 216P/LINEAR, 207P/NEAT, 150P/LONEOS, 144P/Kushida, 121P/Shoemaker-Holt, 103P/Hartley, 65P/Gunn, 62P/Tsuchinshan, 37P/Forbes, 32P/Comas Sola, 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann, 13P/Olbers, and 12P/Pons-Brooks.

A big thanks to our recent contributors: Dan Bartlett, Michel Besson, Denis Buczynski, Dan Crowson, Michel Deconinck, Jose Guilherme de Souza Aguiar, Juan Jose Gonzalez Suarez, Eliot Herman, Michael Jäger, Christian Harder, Manos Kardasis, John Maikner, Gianluca Masi, Erwin Matys, Martin Mobberley, Karoline Mrazek, Mike Olason, Uwe Pilz, Greg Ruppel, Chris Schur, Gregory T. Shanos, Willian Souza, Tenho Tuomi, Russell Wheeler, and Christopher Wyatt.

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

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