Perfect Astronomy

First Clear Night In Ages - And A Comet!

Published October 29, 2009 by Tim Trott in Observations

It was a nice cold, clear night tonight, and I was finally able to go out and see what all the fuss was about over Comet 17P/Holmes which I've been hearing so much about.

Comet 17P/Holmes mysteriously exploded a few days ago, creating a large bright aura around the nucleus. Possibly formed by vapour erupting from vents on the surface, the exact cause is a mystery to astronomers, but it does make an interesting sight in the sky.

I was extremely (and pleasantly!) surprised at how easy it was to find in the sky. With the constellation of Perseus moving into light polluted territory, I was amazed that I could see it through binoculars, and the view through a small telescope was fantastic. Once I knew where to look, it was clearly visible with the unaided eye. I took quite a few pictures as this is the first actual comet I have been able to photograph, let alone observe, so this comet is a little special for me! I have selected two photos to share here; a wide angle shot showing the Perseids where the comet is marked with red pointers. The second is a closeup with my baby Skywatcher and camera mounted at prime focus.

Comet HolmesComet Holmes

It wasn't long however until the Moon decided to put in an appearance, which greatly reduced the visibility of the comet. Still, I had loads of pictures and I took the opportunity to photograph the Moon some more.


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