SH055 – A Trio of Comets

In Episode SH055 of Star Hopping…

we’ll be checking out the trio of Comets that are visiting our Solar System. Comets Johnson and Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresak are evening targets, in and around the constellation of Hercules. And in the pre-dawn hours, we have yet another Comet Lovejoy, Australian amateur Terry Lovejoy’s 6th discovery.


So over the past few months we have had several new arrivals into our area of the solar system, in the form of fairly bright Comets tracking inward toward the Sun. The current high performing comet is known as C/2015 V2 Johnson. The second which is a little past its prime viewing: Comet C/2015 V2 Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresak. And third, in the morning skies, is newly discovered Comet C/2017 E4 Lovejoy.

So you may be wondering about this somewhat complicated naming convention for comets. Let’s take a look at the specific naming elements of Comet Johnson.

It’s been given the designation of “C/2015 V2”, where the “C’ means a single appearance comet. The 2015 is the year it was discovered. The “V2” is a little more complex. This letter and number indicates the half-month of the discovery and a number indicating the order of discovery, so “V2” means that this is the second comet discovered in the first half of November of that year. And “Johnson”, is a little more obvious – that’s the last name if the comet’s discoverer; J.A. Johnson of the Catalina Sky Survey.

So let’s take a quick break, and we’ll learn more about Comet Johnson.

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Credits for this Episode

  • Image of Comet Johnson – Jose Chambo
  • Image of Comet Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresak – David Hearn, Kissimmee Park Observatory
  • Image of Comet Lovejoy – Fabrice Noel

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