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Comet Unexpectedly Brightens - Visible in Small Telescopes

Curt Renz

Well-Known Member
Mar 5, 2013
Periodic Comet 15P Finlay has recently flared from an expected magnitude of +13.3 to an estimated +8.7 (lower number means brighter). It currently appears near Mars and should be visible in large binoculars or small telescopes: earthsky.org/space/comet-finlay-is-in-outburst

I've created two preview charts and an ephemeris: www.CurtRenz.com/comets

The magnitudes listed in those graphics are based on JPL parameters and do not reflect the recent flaring.

Photos and descriptions of the comet would be welcome additions to this thread.


Sep 4, 2013
Thanks for the heads up. I have Celestron 15X70 binoculars which gives a decent view of Jupitor + 4 of its moons. With those binoculars, we can also see Mars as an orangish star but no detail beyond that.
Once clouds clear, do you think those binoculars are adequate to view comet? And a tail? How long will comet be viewable? Thanks!

Edit: will have to check out links when back at computer, too small on phone. My answers will probably be there. Thanks again!


Aug 20, 2006
A long while back I bought some ex USSR military surplus night vision binoculars. They don't work very well for looking around at things at night. Everything is green, low-res, and blurry. But they are fantastic for looking at comet tails. When Hyakutake and Hale-Bopp were out I could see trails half way across the sky with them.


S P4996 ==> P02547
Apr 27, 2012
Bradfordwoods, PA
Yes rjcbox, if you have wide aperture binocs (and 70mm is very wide), those are perfect. They key is to get them stable, so use a good tripod, or if you don't have a tripod, at least lie down on your back for viewing.


Fluffy Member
Apr 30, 2009
I've a pair of Cannon image stabilized 50mm, and a Sky window mirror mount. Lovely combination for relaxed viewing. Add a laser pointer finder and it's almost too easy to find stuff now! I gave my 8 inch scope away because I was using the binos more often, as it is much easier to setup for a quick look.


Fluffy Member
Apr 30, 2009
That Sky Window mirror mount looks brilliant, I may need to get one of those to use with my Oberwerk 15x70s!
It is a work of art. Looking "down" is much easier and less taxing than looking "up", even with a tripod holding the binos.

I just drag out a card table and a folding chair on clear nights and am viewing in moments. It takes a bit getting used to a mirrored view, but it's not too hard. Adding a green laser pointer that reflects down off the mirror makes finding stuff pretty easy. Just slew the mirror until the laser points to the area of sky you want to see, then look.


Recovering Member
Apr 3, 2011
Northern Virginia
Curt, what causes this weird halo around the moon tonight? I figured if anyone here knows, you might:


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