144P Kushida

Closest to Earth on 2024 Dec 13 at 0.57AU.
Closest to Sun on 2024 Jan 25 at 1.39AU.
Maximum magnitude 8.5 in January 2024
Orbital period 7.50 years

Comet 144P is a short period comet discovered by Yoshio Kushida, Yatsugatake South Base Observatory, in 1994.
The comet is making its 5th observed return in 2024.
The observing circumstances are identical to that of the 2009 passage,
where the comet reached a peak brightness of magnitude 8.5 at perihelion with a coma 10 wide.

During December 2023, the comet performs a retrograde loop in the constellation of Aries as the Earth overtakes it
and remains within 2 degrees of Sigma Arietis throughout the month, brightening from magnitude 14 to 10.
It is best observed in the late evening hours. The comet is very slow to brighten towards perihelion until a month prior,
typical behaviour of periodic comets.
The comet is closest to the Earth on December 13 at a distance of 0.57AU but may appear 12th magnitude.
Moonlight interferes from December 19.
From December 29, the comet is visible just prior to moonrise and will appear noticeably brighter than at the start of the month.

During January 2024, the comet is best observed in the evening sky after dusk,
trekking eastwards through the constellations of Aries and Taurus.
It brightens rapidly from magnitude 10.0 to 8.5 as it approaches perihelion.
Periodic comets tend to continue brightening after the perihelion passage as will be the case with 144P
No interesting deep sky rendezvous occurs this month.
The comet crosses from Aries into Taurus on January 12.
Moonlight starts to interfere from January 17.
From January 29, moonlight no longer interferes, and the comet has reached maximum brightness of magnitude 8.5,
situated some 8 degrees west of Aldebaran in Taurus.

During February 2024, the comet is best observed in the evening sky after dusk as it treks eastwards through the constellation of Taurus.
It maintains a steady brightness of magnitude 8.5 for a couple of weeks
as it reaches peak brightness some 20 days after perihelion before fading to magnitude 9.5 by months end.
From February 5 to 11, it traverses the Hyades star cluster in Taurus, reaching Aldebaran on the nights of February 10-11,
where the comet may be observed with difficulty due to its proximity to the 1st magnitude star.
Moonlight starts to interfere from February 11
On February 22, it lies 30 North of open star clusters NGC 1807 and NGC 1817.
From February 28, moonlight no longer interferes.

During March 2024, the comet is best observed in the evening sky after dusk, trekking eastwards
through the constellations of Taurus, Orion and Gemini, fading rapidly from magnitude 9.5 to 12.0
On March 13, it lies 20 South of nebula complex Sh 2-254 to Sh 2-258 HII regions in Orion. Also known as IC 2162.
Moonlight starts to interfere from March 15.

144P returns again in August 2031 but this will be an unfavourable one so make the most of this opportunity.


Photo of 144P Kushida on 2023 December 16

The 2024 apparition will be similar to this Image taken in 2009 below