Comet Category

I drove out to Sunset Crater tonight to get a shot of an Iridium Flare, and brought my equatorial mount with me to follow up with some images of Comet Jacques. Its beautiful turquoise coma was drifting through the Cassiopeia Milky Way this evening and showed up even in my...

9P/Tempel 1 - July 3, 2005

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Move mouse over image for labels and movement marker. Observation Notes: Sunday, June 3, 2005 at 10:52 PM local time was the moment slated to observe the collision of the Deep Impact Probe with Comet 9P/Tempel 1. Not that there would be much to see with my 6" scope,...

9P/Tempel 1 - July 4, 2005

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Move mouse over images for labels and movement marker. Observation Notes: Having had success finding this comet the previous night, I wanted to try again and see if I could also detect a difference in brightness in the day since the hit by the Deep Impact Probe. Several online...

103P/Hartley - OCT 4, 2010

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Sketch of comet 103P/Hartley Move mouse over sketch above to view labels.Click image for larger version. Observation Notes: Comet Hartly has not become as bright as hoped, but it is still an enjoyable telescopic target. Clouds from the day's thunderstorms cleared up enough that I was able to spend...

144P/Kushida - JAN 2 - 3, 2009

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Sketch of comet 144P/Kushida Move mouse over sketch above to view labels and different positions.Click image for larger version. Observation Notes: Comet 144P/Kushida is riding high in Taurus now, but the moon is sneaking up on it. I observed it over the last couple nights and found it sliding...
Move mouse over upper image for labels. Observation Notes Because I was observing at Anderson Mesa this comet was fairly easy to find, a bit more than a degree southwest of Alrakis in Draco. It was large--about 9 arc minutes--and very diffuse. It was only very slightly condensed, as...

17P / Holmes Observations

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The links below will take you to my observations, data, sketches and photographs of Comet 17P/Holmes during it's outburst beginning October 2007. 17P / HolmesGrowth ChartOngoing 17P / Holmes DEC 6, 2007 17P / Holmes NOV 20, 200710 min - f/11 17P / Holmes NOV 20, 20075 min - f/7...
With a growing collection of measurements on my list, I wanted to put together a graph showing the change in size of the comet's main structures. As other observers have noted, the growth has been linear, so it should be straightforward to make some predictions about its size in the...

17P / Holmes - OCT 27, 2007

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Observation Notes: Due to extreme sleep deficit, I had to pass up detailed observing and sketching this comet tonight. To the naked eye, it now is clearly non-stellar and appears as an extremely tiny disc. Through binoculars, it is slap-in-the-face obvious and cream colored. Through the low power 48X view,...

17P / Holmes - November 19, 2007

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My Comet Holmes sleep deficit has been hard to overcome. I'm a little bummed that I haven't been able to keep sketching its progress over the last week or so as it's grown larger than the sun. I've really wanted to get some photographs of it now that it's...
f/11 - 3 x 7 minute exposures f/7.1 - 3 x 5 minute exposures I had an opportunity to process the photographs I shot of 17P/Holmes Sunday night (Nov. 18/19). I had shot 5 minute, 7 minute and 10 minute exposures at both f/7.1 and f/11. The f/11 shots produced tighter...
I had the opportunity to make an interesting comparison of Comet Holmes' visibility from Phoenix and from Flagstaff this weekend. While in Phoenix, I tried to view the comet from a fully moonlit, light-polluted sky and was not surprised that I could not see it with the naked eye. With...

17P / Holmes - OCT 24, 2007

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Move mouse over sketch above to view labels. Click image for larger version. Observation Notes: Have you ever seen a golden comet? The thought had never occurred to me--until tonight. Earlier today, reports started arriving that observers in Asia had noted an extraordinary outburst in periodic comet 17P /...

17P / Holmes - OCT 26, 2007

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Move mouse over sketch above to view labels. Click image for larger version. Click above image for larger version. Observation Notes: Over the course of the last 24 hours, the size of this comet has increased greatly. Using my astrometric eyepiece, I measured the central condensation at about 35...

17P / Holmes - OCT 26, 2007

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Move mouse over sketch above to view labels. Click image for larger version. Move mouse over sketch above to view labels. Click image for larger version. Observation Notes: And it just keeps growing and growing and growing... The comet's naked eye brightness seems the same as the last two...

17P / Holmes - OCT 28, 2007

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Move mouse over sketch above to view labels. Click image for larger version. Move mouse over sketch above to view labels. Click image for larger version. Observation Notes: The comet has now taken on a sort of off-white newsprint color. The outer halo fades out softly and high thin...

17P / Holmes - OCT 31, 2007

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Move mouse over sketch above to view labels. Click image for larger version. Move mouse over sketch above to view labels. Click image for larger version. Observation Notes: After a couple days off from observing the comet, I was treated to more stunning views. The moon was out of...

17P / Holmes - NOV 3, 2007

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Move mouse over sketch above to view labels. Click image for larger version. Move mouse over sketch above to view labels. Click image for larger version. Move mouse over sketch above to view labels. Click image for larger version. Observation Notes: After another two day hiatus, I enjoyed some...

17P / Holmes - NOV 7, 2007

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Move mouse over sketch above to view labels. Click image for larger version. Move mouse over sketch above to view labels. Click image for larger version. Observation Notes: As the comet has gotten larger, the outer envelope has become much less distinct. It shows up as a faint brightening...

17P / Holmes - DEC 06, 2007

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Move mouse over sketch above to view labels. Click image for larger version. Observation Notes: It's hard to believe that it's been a month since I last sketched this comet. It has truly become monstrous. To the naked eye, it is a large soft patch glowing in Perseus, and...
This past weekend I made a presentation to the CAS at Lowell Observatory about Visually Observable Comets for 2006. Preparing it turned out to be an excellent education for me in ways I hadn't expected. I wanted to generate ideal observing times and animations of the paths of C/2005 E2...
Move mouse over upper image for labels. Observation Notes This was my first of what I hope will be many observations of this comet. I found it just east of Arcturus, and even from the less-than-ideal glare in front of my house, it was readily visible. It immediately portrayed...
Component C Component B Move mouse over upper image for labels. Observation Notes I was very happy to find the two brightest components of the comet tonight. While component C is tracked by my planetarium software, the rest aren't. However, a couple very helpful finder charts have been posted by...
Component C Component B Move mouse over upper image for labels. Observation Notes I finally got a chance to view this comet from a dark site. It almost seems unfair to compare this observation to what I saw from home. It was a real beauty. In addition to the darkness,...
Observation Notes This was a fantastic sight! The comet shared the view with brilliant, second magnitude Alpha Coronae Borealis. The nucleus still appeared stellar with a fan shaped tail blowing to the southwest. The tail seemed to trail about 38', distending an angle of about 45°. The brightest portion...
37.5X Telescopic sketch of Component C 37.5X Telescopic Sketch of Component B Move mouse over images to see labels. Observation Notes I was out at Cinder Hills Overlook this evening, sharing the cul-de-sac with Bill Ferris and Brent Archinal. The thin crescent of a 2 and a half day old...
Move mouse over images to see labels. Observation Notes This evening, 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 3 C was due to brush past M57 by just 3.5 arc minutes at 03:00 UT (8 PM MST). Unfortunately, Lyra was just beginning to crest the horizon at 8 pm. I finally got a good look...

C/2004 Q2 (Machholz) - DEC 30, 2004

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The above image is a graphite sketch redrawn based on the original digital sketch. The star field was generated by Starry Night Pro 5.8. Click image for larger version. Observation Notes: Well, the weather and my schedule hasn't been cooperating too much lately for getting out under the stars...

C/2004 Q2 (Machholz) - DEC 11, 2004

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Observation Notes: Since viewing Machholz the night before at the USNO, it had moved noticeably north. Light pollution here at home was pretty bad, but I think I can still see it barely by naked eye. Through the eyepiece, it is just inside the southwest edge of a triangle...
Observation Notes: Tonight, in my 10 X 50 binoculars, Machholz was starting to show a longer dust tail. I took some pictures during breaks in the passing clouds. This is a stack of 11 images ranging in exposure from 2 to 6 minutes. Exposures are with the Canon Digital Rebel...
I went to town on the light pollution in the image, and finally got something that would let me pop the tails out some more. It made a huge difference. The coma is still obviously green. But now the ion tail appears blue, while the short dust tail is a...
Comet this. Comet that. Sorry. This thing is just too cool. It's right up on the Pleiades now, and the clouds had mercy enough for some pictures tonight. Light pollution was pretty noticeable in the shots, and processing it out is killing the tails. But here's where I'm at so...
Note: There are many comets with the name "McNaught" assigned to them. If you are looking for information on the bright twilight comet visible in January 2007, I have an observation and sketches available here: C/2006 P1 (McNaught). The observation on this page is for C/2005 E2 (McNaught) in January...
Move mouse over upper image for labels. Observation Notes This observation of C/2006 A1 Pojmanski came at the end of an all-night observing session at Anderson Mesa. Because it was going to be fencing with the rising sun, I needed to catch it as close to the horizon as...
Move mouse over upper image for labels. Click here for a large (51K) version of this sketch. Observation Notes This was a surprisingly beautiful comet! The coma was bright and strongly condensed. I did not detect a pseudo-nucleus however. The slender gauze of an ion tail flowed toward the...
Move mouse over upper image for labels.Background star field printed from Starry Night Pro Plus.Comet and M13 sketched as observed. This image shows the view after the coma had set behind Mt. Elden.Background star field printed from Starry Night Pro Plus.Comet and M13 sketched as observed. Observation Notes I...
Sketch update - April 28, 2007 I figured the binocular sketch I made of the comet and M13 a few months ago ought to be redrawn. It was done on plain laser printer paper, and which didn't handle the shading very well. Below is the new sketch, created on Strathmore...
Move mouse over sketch above to view labels and different positions. Click image for larger version. Observation Notes: Two comets within the span of a week. It feels great to pull another one in. Comet 2006 OF2 was discovered by J. Broughton on July 17, 2006. It is currently...
Observation Notes A couple unsuccessful attempts to view this comet from home at sunrise and sunset the last couple days, lead me to drive up to Switzer Mesa after work today for a better horizon. Finding the comet was not easy in the sherbet orange twilight. I scanned the...

C/2006 P1 (McNaught) - JAN 11, 2007

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Observation Notes On the slight chance the weather would cooperate, I headed up to breezy, freezy, Switzer Mesa again this evening. Clouds were nestled stubbornly along the western horizon, but very slender gaps were slowly migrating through them. So I sat inside the warm car, got my 10 x...
Observation Notes A daylight comet observation! Really! It's strange to imagine observing a comet in broad daylight. But this McNaught is brilliant. Reports had been coming in for the last two or three days that observers were picking it up during the day. But the weather here had been...
Above image is created with charcoal on a preprinted starfield from Starry Night Pro, and then inverted to a positive image. Click image for a larger version (92K) Above image is created with white Conté pencil on black paper with a pre-traced starfield from Starry Night Pro. Click image...
The links below will take you to my observations, sketches and photographs of C/2006 P1 (McNaught) from mid-January, 2007. C/2006 P1(McNaught)Synchronic BandsJAN 20, 2007 C/2006 P1(McNaught)- Full Daylight -JAN 14, 2007 C/2006 P1(McNaught)JAN 12, 2007 C/2006 P1(McNaught)JAN 9, 2007...
Move mouse over sketch to view labels. Click sketch for larger image. Observation Notes: C/2006 VZ13 is a pleasantly bright comet and has been easily visible with 15 x 70 binoculars from my backyard for the last week when clouds haven't been in the way. Telescopically, it was large...
Move mouse over sketch above to view labels. Click image for larger version. Observation Notes: Comet 2006 W3 was discovered on November 18, 2006 by E. J. Christensen with the Catalina Sky Survey. It has been corkscrewing its way along the northern Milky Way since then, heading for a...
Move mouse over sketch above to view labels. Click sketch above to view larger image. Observation Notes: Driving back from Phoenix with the latest addition to our telescope family (an Orion XT8 Dobsonian!), I took a detour to McMillan Mesa with the kids to have a look at C/2007...
Move mouse over sketch above to view labels. Click to view larger image. Observation Notes: I've had a horrible time finding this comet from my house and a nearby road the last few evenings. I don't have a great western horizon in this part of town. The comet had...

C/2007 N3 (Lulin) - JAN 9, 2009

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Sketch of comet C/2007 N3 (Lulin) Click image for larger version. Observation Notes: What does it take to get me out of bed at the abominable hour of 4 AM? Comet Lulin, that's what! I've been hearing some good reports about it, and saw a fantastic photo of it...
One of the enjoyable parts about making a visual comet observation is seeing how well subtly observed details compare to images taken during the same time period. This often mean waiting a day or two for those images to start posting to the web. So after observing C/2007 N3 (Lulin),...

C/2007 N3 (Lulin) - JAN 28, 2009

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Sketch of comet C/2007 N3 (Lulin) Move mouse over sketch above to view labels.Click image for larger version. Observation Notes: After making some other early morning observations on January 28, 2009, I turned the telescope on Comet Lulin. Astronomical twilight was threatening, and I needed to move quickly. The...

C/2007 N3 (Lulin) - FEB 20, 2009

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Photo of C/2007 N3 (Lulin)Click for larger image. Comet Lulin is approaching opposition on February 25, so that leaves a very small window to observe its fantastic anti-tail structure. After opposition, both dust and ion tails should be overlapped on the east side of the comet. I had planned...

C/2007 N3 (Lulin) - FEB 24, 2009

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Sketch of comet C/2007 N3 (Lulin) Move mouse over sketch above to view labels.Click image for larger version. Observation Notes: Lulin was a spectacular sight with brilliant Saturn tonight. I observed from home, and had more light pollution to put up with. Still, the dust tail was in excellent...
Move mouse over sketch above to view labels. Click image for larger version. Observation Notes: Conditions for viewing the comet were much better tonight. Little wind, and improved transparency. As a result, the comet was easier to spot. It was still very soft, but its apparent diameter was closer...
Move mouse over sketch above to view labels. Click image for larger version. Observation Notes: Although this comet would have benefited from a trip outside of town to get away from the low altitude light pollution, I was still able to find it from my front yard. The comet...
Sketch of comet C/2009 P1 (Garradd) Move mouse over sketch above to view labels.Click image for larger version. Observation Notes: I enjoyed a very nice view of C/2009 P1 (Garradd) tonight. It's been too long since I've gotten out for a recreational observation. The coma was moderately condensed with...
Sketch of comet C/2009 R1 (McNaught) Move mouse over sketch above to view labels.Click image for larger version. Observation Notes: I really enjoyed the view of the comet this morning with the 8 inch Dob, 15 x 70 binoculars, and naked eye. Through the telescope, the ion tail stretched...
Sketch of C/2011 L4 (PanSTARRS) - March 18/19, 2013Click for larger version. While visiting family in Elk City, Oklahoma, we had a mostly clear evening and I brought a tripod out into a field to have a look at the comet. About a dozen alpaca followed me out and decided...
Sketch of C/2011 L4 (PanSTARRS) - March 13/14, 2013Click for larger version. In the two nights since I last viewed the comet, it's elevation has risen enough to pull it further out of the twilight glare. And it looks GREAT! The view got better and better as twilight deepened. The...
Sketch of C/2011 L4 (PanSTARRS) - March 11/12, 2013Click for larger version. The comet was looking better tonight and I was able to view it naked eye as a soft 'star' in the twilight. Besides binoculars, I also brought the 8-inch Dob to a school parking lot on McMillan Mesa....
Illustration of C/2011 L4 (PanSTARRS) - March 10/11, 2013Click for larger version. Illustration of C/2011 L4 (PanSTARRS) - March 10/11, 2013Click for larger version. After weeks of putting on a nice show for the southern hemisphere, PanSTARRS finally drifted into view for northern observers. We had a crystal clear sky...
Sketch of C/2012 S1 (ISON) - November 17, 2013Click for larger version. I had my first view of ISON this morning. I woke up at 5am and the sky looked clear out my north-facing window. So I threw something on, rummaged for the binoculars and headed outside...where I saw fast...

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