Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Comet 17/p Holmes

As noted by the Bad Astronomer a comet that was until last night 17th magnitude (too faint to see with even many modest amateur scopes without ideal conditions), suddenly got over 400,000 times brighter in a single night and brightened to ~3rd magnitude!!! This is visible to the naked eye even under typical light pollution!

I grabbed my telescope and headed outside tonight to find it. The first thing I found was that my finder scope was misaligned, but once I fixed that, the comet was quite easy to find. Sadly, I didn't have a good camera with me and even if I did, it's quite difficult to get it set up to do the longer exposures to get good shots of comets, but I tried snapping shots through the eyepiece with a point-and-click digital.

One shot came out fairly close to what I actually saw through the eyepiece, so here it is:



Typically, when comets get significantly brighter it's because a large pocket of gas was liberated and spewed off into space. But the halo of this comet seemed amazingly symmetric. I was hoping to see a bit more lopsidedness if there was such an outgassing. Very odd, but very cool all at the same time.

7 comments:

Wayne said...

I had a similar experience with my digital (on a tripod) looking in the eyepiece.

http://pages.suddenlink.net/keithphotos/PA256725crop.JPG

gordon said...

"...the halo of this comet seemed amazingly symmetric."

Are you sure it's not just coming straight at us?! ;)

Blondin said...

Headline: "Comet Holmes' Meteoric Rise to Stardom!"

ASTROWAN said...

wooww marvellouse!!! i from pahang,malaysia cannot see this event because cloudy....

please grab to my blog all about holmes 17p http://holmes17p.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

Comet Holmes has proved to be an exciting experience from Tabuk. I have followed it every night using 12 x 45 binoculars and an 80mm refractor. In binoculars it is a giant fuzz-ball that has slowly expanded over the period since its outburst. The coma is almost disc-like with the preceding end rather more fuzzy than the following. The telescope and images with my Canon 30D camera, 135mm telephoto and x3 teleconverter reveal a stellar nucleus that I estimated at mag 9 on occasions. The comet stayed quite bright at around 2m.5 for about a week after the outburst, but it is now beginning to fade. Last night (05-11-2007) It was down to 3m.2.
Interestingly, I have suspected a very faint giant halo or outer coma about three times the diameter of the innerc coma that is comparable in size to the Full Moon. Whether or not this is a figment of my imagination remains to be seen, so I would be curious to find out if anyone else has seen it.

Best wishes,

Colin Henshaw

ASTROWAN said...

wooww marvellouse!!! i from pahang,malaysia cannot see this event because cloudy....

please grab to my blog all about holmes 17p http://holmes17p.blogspot.com

gordon said...

"...the halo of this comet seemed amazingly symmetric."

Are you sure it's not just coming straight at us?! ;)