Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Comet Hartley2

For those that haven't heard, Comet Hartley 2 is making it's appearance right now. It's not really exceptional as far as comets go and is only expected to peak at around 5th magnitude, but it's still the best we're getting this year.

I went out Saturday night to my aunt's house outside St. Louis where it's fairly dark (enough so to see the Milky Way) to go hunt for it. I think it must have vanished because, armed with sky maps and a 4" reflector, I spent three hours looking for it and found a whole lotta nothin. Everything I got in the eyepiece was distinctly stellar and I panned all over the damned field.

Anyone else look for it and have similar experiences? I notice that the link above points out that the coma is already over 1ยบ in size, so this thing is huge. Perhaps I just wasn't expecting something so diffuse and passed right over it. The last comet I found was comet 17p Holmes and it was quite small in size at that point.

I'll go out again in a few nights if it's clear and try again. It's getting cold, but thankfully, my aunt has a hot tub.

6 comments:

feralboy12 said...

You might try using binoculars--that's how I spotted Hale-Bopp when it was just a fuzzy little blob. You didn't say what magnification you used, but something low like 10x is good for spread-out stuff, and 50mm should turn up a magnitude 5.

Jon Voisey said...

I'm not rightly sure what the magnification was as the telescope I was using wasn't my own. It was a 4" reflector which tend to have a focal length around 700mm (iirc), and the eyepiece was a 40 or 32mm, so looking at around 15-20 mag. But I couldn't even find anything in the finder scope that looked comet-ish. Whenever I thought I did, I checked the eyepiece and it was very stellar.

James said...

Yeah, I 'm not having any luck with my 80mm refractor, either. I live in deep dark No.Michigan and nothing in the eyepiece is a comet....."naked eye"..pssshaaaw! Maybe when my eyes were ten years younger

PatrikH said...

The only people I know who have spotted it naked eye are devoted comet-cathers with lots of experience. 103/P is rather low contrast though, more a smudge on the lens in my 15x70mm binos. It doesn't help that the Minor Planet Center changed URL after a hacking attack which means that many planatarium softwares have outdated positions.

Stephen said...

A couple club members are still seeing it or looking for it. But 25x125 binoculars are pretty serious aligned telescopes. The LBT is not, IMO, 2000x8408 binoculars. It's a serious telescope.

And, one of these guys also has a 444 mm (17.5 inch) Dob, with some sort of 100 degree AFOV low power eyepiece for sky scanning.

I've not gotten a chance to look for it myself. I'm mostly interested in unaided eye comets that I can talk up on my TV show, Astronomy For Everyone. That means it has to stay around for the nearly a month between when we shoot the show and when it goes on the air. And, it'd be really nice if it's still there at the end of the month.

PatrikH said...

The only people I know who have spotted it naked eye are devoted comet-cathers with lots of experience. 103/P is rather low contrast though, more a smudge on the lens in my 15x70mm binos. It doesn't help that the Minor Planet Center changed URL after a hacking attack which means that many planatarium softwares have outdated positions.