Get out and...

Pete

Guest
...see that comet everyone! If you've got clear skies. It's the best show we've had since Hale-Bopp in 1997. Called 17P/Holmes, you can find it high up in the north-east not far from Alpha Persei (go down from the 'W' of Cassiopeia). Even without a tail (it looks like a fuzzy star to the naked eye) it's a splendid sight in binoculars even in the moonlight. This is definitely one not to be missed.
 

longers

Veteran
Cloudy here.xx(

Is it for tonight only?
 
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Pete

Guest
longers said:
Is it for tonight only?
Hopefully for several days yet. Normally a very faint periodic comet, this time around it's been getting brighter all the time, but how long that will continue, who knows? Also astronomers are currently debating whether it'll grow a tail.

Here's roughly where to find it at the moment. Note the 'W' of Cassi which is almost overhead at the moment, and the moon just risen.

Naked eye, it does look rather star-like, use binoculars to get the best view.
 

snorri

Legendary Member
Pete, I have tried again with more warm clothing on, but still no joy.xx(
It is a beautifully clear night and I am sure if I had an expert standing beside me he would soon direct me to P19/Holmes. Binocs and telescope just cause me further confusion by revealing lots of other stars.
 

rich p

ridiculous old lush
Location
Brighton
N is not good for me due to light pollution but I'm off to give it a go
 
rich p said:
Got it! It apppears as a large soft focus star. Thanks for the tip, Pete.
I'll go with this too - I have been outside for about half an hour and the amount of stars to be seen is amazing...even allowing for the airport pollution. It makes 100km on a bike seem insignificant when looking that far away and just goes to show that there are some unspoilt views to be had. Might be cold tomorrow though...xx(
 

Arch

Married to Night Train
Location
Salford, UK
Pete said:
Hopefully for several days yet. Normally a very faint periodic comet, this time around it's been getting brighter all the time, but how long that will continue, who knows? Also astronomers are currently debating whether it'll grow a tail.
Uh oh. You know what this means don't you? All that worrying over climate change and world terrorism and it turns out we're going to be wiped out by a comet. Unless they can get Bruce Willis up there sharpish....

I'll pass this on to my bro-in-law, although I expect he knows about it already...
 
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Pete

Guest
Arch said:
...it turns out we're going to be wiped out by a comet.
Errr... my wife asked just about the same question when I showed it her ("will it hit us?"). Sorry to disappoint all you folks (especially those with a Bruce-Willis-fetish) but this one won't come anywhere near the Earth, its orbit never comes inside the orbit of Mars. It actually orbits the Sun once every seven years, but has never shown up like this before, since its discovery in 1892.

Regarding finding this object - and I admit that without a tail it does look a bit star-like with the naked eye - I confess to having an advantage here in that I know my way around the night sky better than Mr/Ms Average I suppose! So it needed only a quick glance, yesterday evening after sunset, at the place in the sky where I knew the comet would be somewhere about. And I instantly saw 'something wrong' with constellation Perseus - an extra 'star' that shouldn't be there, and the rest was easy for me. For those who don't have this faculty and have had difficulty finding it - all I can say is, sweep the sky with binoculars in the area indicated (the moon of course will be later rising as the week advances), until you have it. Once you have it, it will be obvious. Good luck!
 
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