Has comet 45P lost its tail?

Comet 45P 06 February

With the re-emergence of Comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova from conjunction this month, it seems to have lost its mojo. With a visual brightness of magnitude 8, the comet is dimmer than predicted. Moreover, it seems to have lost its majestic tail when compared to images before conjunction. The above image was taken by the founder of CometWatch.co.uk, Matthew Cook. The image comprises of two 90 second exposures taken with a DSLR camera and 70-800mm lens @ 200mm. 180 seconds of exposure would normally show off the comet and tail quite well if it was brighter than magnitude 7 as expected.

Closest approach to Earth occurs on 11th February and there was some expectation for this short period comet in 2017. It seems that this regular visitor will remain outside the reaches of naked eye visibility this time around. As with all comets however, nothing is certain. Comet 45P is still ‘one to watch’ leading up to this weekend.

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    • The comet will be visible from Chicago late this evening (Friday 10, February) as it rises around midnight in the Eastern horizon but probably not visible until an hour later unless your eastern sky is completely unobstructed. The comet then continues to rise higher in to the sky until sunrise the next morning. On the night of Saturday 11th February, the comet will have moved considerably and therefore rise around 11pm but it’s still better to wait until it ‘s well above the horizon.

    • Closest approach officially occurs on Saturday 11th, however the comet will be just about visible through standard binoculars all weekend at a similar brightness. The comet will remain visible in the evenings all month although beginning to get fainter towards the end of February. As with all comets, unpredictable things may happen. Outburst’s can happen at any time.

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