Every time a comet slowly approaches the inner solar system, astronomers get excited. We are hopeless romantics, wishing the new comet will brighten enough to be labeled the next ‘comet of the century.’ Yet we have had our hearts broken before, more often than not. The most recent fizzled comet was nearly two years ago with the burn up of comet ISON as it passed close to the Sun. It made for a spectacular view for SOHO and SDO looking at the Sun, but for the rest of us it was just another heartbreak. But once again we have hope; A slowly brightening comet is starting to gain attention.
Comet C/2013 US10 Catalina was discovered in 2013 during observations with the Catalina Sky Survey, and it has been steadily brightening to 8th magnitude, where it sits currently. As it continues toward the inner solar system it will brighten further, peaking some time in October or November.
It could be a good one, even reaching naked eye visibility, though the downside for us up in the great white north is that it will spend most of its time in the southern hemisphere, until it shifts up into northern skies sometime in December.
It could be an epic comet to finish off the year! Or it could be another heartbreak….