More Stuff To Help You Find 252P, The Green Comet

This wider view map shows the sky facing south shortly before the start of dawn with Comet 252P/LINEAR at 5:30 a.m. local daylight saving time
This wide map shows the sky facing south shortly before the start of dawn with comet 252P/LINEAR’s position shown daily at 5:30 a.m. local daylight time March 24-30. I’ve plotted stars to magnitude +6.5 and labeled the brighter ones. Try using nearby Saturn to help guide you to the comet. Click to enlarge. Map: Bob King, source: Stellarium

OK, the moon’s slimming down, the sky’s getting darker by degrees. You’re hoping to see the green comet pictured in recent online photos. I know exactly how you feel because I want to see it, too! Comet 252P/LINEAR has finally climbed high enough in the southern sky before dawn for most skywatchers in the U.S. and southern Canada to seek it this weekend. The latest brightness estimates put the comet at around magnitude +6.5, which is either at or just below the naked eye limit depending on your skies. BUT — and it’s a big but —  you’ll need a dark sky to go that low. And that’s something we won’t have until the moon backs out of the picture starting April 1.

This larger-scale map goes deeper to magnitude +8 and shows the comet at 5:30 a.m local daylight time through April 1. C
This larger-scale map goes deeper to magnitude +8 and shows the comet at 5:30 a.m local daylight time through March 31. Map: Bob King, source: Chris Marriott’s SkyMap

For now, 50mm or larger binoculars will be needed to combat the moonlight. Because the comet is described as “diffuse” or not strongly compacted in its center, it will appear faint in binoculars. The best instrument would be a modest-sized telescope, say a 6-inch reflector, working at a low magnification, say about 50x. You can use either or both of these charts. The wider one was made assuming the comet would be visible in binoculars, the other goes deeper and fainter.

Comet 252P/LINEAR on March 18. It still looks like a glowing, tailless ball. Credit: Gerald Rhemann
Comet 252P/LINEAR on March 18. It still looks like a glowing, tailless fuzzball about 1° across or twice the size of the full moon. Credit: Gerald Rhemann

Please let us know if you find 252P. Those of us under the clouds would love to know better what to expect. Good luck!

8 Responses

    1. astrobob

      Hi Phil,
      This morning was probably the most difficult for finding the comet because the moon was so nearby. It’ll get better here on out.

  1. Larry Smith

    I ‘d like to get a map from Astro Bob for R Canis Majoris. A map like the detailed one provided for Astro Bob’s VY Canis Majoris locator chart. Most star charts are too general and the AAVSO chart is too detailed to locate R CMa.

  2. Norman Sanker

    With much reduced Moon interference and a location near a findable star, I finally found Comet 252P LINEAR this morning, around 2:45 MST. I hopped from Saturn to the star it should be a little right of, and realized I could see it as just a patch of glow with no hint of even a central condensation. Once I knew exactly where I was looking, it was a little more obvious in the 9X35 binoculars than in had been in the eyepiece of the C-8. No April Fool’s, it is visible.

    1. astrobob

      Hi Norman,
      What a difference getting the moon out of the picture makes! Thanks for sharing your observation. I just got back in from seeing it, too. VERY easy in 10×50 binoculars. It was big soft glow nearly twice as large as the moon (just under 1 degree). With the 10-inch scope it was slightly condensed with DC=3 and I could just make out a very faint, tiny pseudo-nucleus. It was so cool to see it finally.

  3. Giorgio Rizzarelli

    Hi Bob. I got 232P yesterday morning. Decent photos in C8 and telelens. Still with its green ball characteristic aspect. Barely visible in the C8.

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