Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Comet Pan-STARRS

Well I saw Comet Pan-STARRS! It really wasn't easy though.

I noticed it was going to be clear enough at 530pm after a day of bright sun interspersed with a huge blizzard mid-afternoon. The thin moon was visible pretty high above the roof tops in my bedroon window, so I figured spotting the comet would be an absolute doozy.

How wrong I was.

I first went outside about 620pm with my 10x50s. The moon seemed pretty high, and I had some great views of that and jupiter, which were the only celestial bodies easily visible at that time. But of the comet, no sign in the section of my garden that had good western views. Damn damn damn! I though, and headed back to my mobile phone for info.

"This will help me spot it!" I said to myself. Wrong wrong wrong!

By 650pm I figured it was below the rooftops, so went into my bedroom, which had a decent western aspect over the old folks home - the residents of which may have thought a maniac with binoculars was spying on them. I wasn't, I was spying in gaps in the purple-black clouds that had rolled in from the North West.

I was getting really frustrated at missing probably my best chance of seeing it, and then suddenly, in between tree branches and skating on a roof top, I was it and wondered how I'd missed it. Brightness is not the problem, it's the size - it is showing a tail maybe 10 minutes of arc or less in my 10x50s, with a faint ion tail too. It was about 9 degrees at 5 o'clock from the moon, and by the time I'd tweeted someone to tell them how to find it, it was gone below the rooftops and into the cloudline too.

But I saw it! A difficult object, and I managed to see it in the middle of town! No matter how brief it was, still a proud astronomy moment for me.

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