Perhaps the simplest way to find Comet Catalina is to first locate the Big Dipper in the pre-dawn sky. Note how the handle forms a sort of ‘arc.’ That ‘arc’ can be followed to the orange giant star known as Arcturus which, for those in the Northern Hemisphere, is the second brightest star in the sky and relatively easy to identify.
Guide to Arcturus
Comet Catalina on New Year’s Morning
If you either get up early on New Year’s morning, or more likely, if you’re still up after celebrating all night, then here is where you can find Comet Catalina just before sunrise:
On New Year’s Day morning, Jan. 1, the comet will pass a mere 0.5 degrees – about the width of the moon – to the west of Arcturus. So if you head outdoors 60-90 minutes before dawn, let Arcturus serve as your guidepost (one ‘moon-width’ away) to find the faint, fuzzy patch of Comet Catalina. Of course, for optimal viewing, it’s recommended that you observe away from streetlights and city skyglow.