COMET CATALINA makes it’s closest pass to Earth this weekend, on the night of Saturday, January 16. On this night, it will be very close to the handle of the Big Dipper. Catalina will pass between the Big and Little Dippers among the stars of Draco through the end of January as it recedes from the Earth. In the process, it passes close to the North Star, and will be then be visible the entire night until it disappears from view.

Comet Catalina is a faint comet, not visible with the unaided eye. But it should be readily visible through a pair of ordinary binoculars. Spotting is greatly assisted by its proximity to these famous northern stars. Mount your binocs to a tripod for steady viewing. If you don’t have a tripod, lean your head against your house or other steady object to reduce shaking.

Being a faint comet, Catalina will be more readily visible from rural locations than the light polluted cities. Also, the waxing Moon will be shining brightly toward the end of the month, further diminishing the comet. So try to get a look during the weekend of Jan 16-17 and early into the next week, if weather permits.


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