2014’s most anticipated comet has to be C/2013 A1 Siding Spring, expected to reach magnitude 7.5 and become binocular-worthy for southern hemisphere skywatchers as it traverses the southern circumpolar constellations this September. Northerners will have to wait until early October for the comet to climb into the evening sky by way of Scorpius and Sagittarius. Watch for an 8th magnitude hazy glow in the southwestern sky at that time.
As October ticks by, A1 Siding Spring creeps closer and closer to Mars until it overlaps the planet on the 19th. Normally, a comet will only appear to pass in front of stars and deep sky objects because it’s in the same line of sight. Not this time. Siding Spring may actually “touch” Mars for real. Comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring will overlap Mars on October 19, 2014. With the planet at magnitude
Comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring will overlap Mars on October 19, 2014. Assuming magnitude 8 at the time, the comet should look like a hazy glow around the planet through binoculars and telescopes. Stellarium On October 19 the comet will pass so close to the planet that its outer coma or atmosphere may envelop Mars and spark a meteor shower. The sight of a bright planet smack in the middle of a comet’s head should be something quite wonderful to see through a telescope.
Post by deepskydarrell on Sept 5, 2014 17:15:14 GMT -8
That one could be difficult to observe. With sunset at 6:11, by the time it's a little bit darker -- 7:00, Mars will be only 11 degrees above the southwestern horizon. So to see a magnitude 8 haze around the planet could be confused with the usual haze near our horizon.
However the usual media hype will ensue.
Maybe better to watch a NASA site for the meteor shower on Mars or some Mars / comet shots from the ISS.
16.5 inch F 5.3 Zambuto Optics homebuilt Dobsonian