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Old 29-11-2010, 08:30 AM
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Rob_K is offline
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Bright, Vic, Australia
Posts: 2,098
Comet & clusters, 28 Nov 2010

Hardly seem to be at home lately, not that it matters greatly with the weather, but last night I was and in a 'miraculous' break in the clouds that lasted an hour or two I saw one of the most beautiful telescopic sights I've EVER seen!!

It was comet 103P Hartley nestled between the two bright open clusters NGC 2422 (M47) and NGC 2437 (M46). The comet showed as a large bright circular haze, brightening towards the centre but not highly centrally-condensed. The contrast between the two clusters is wonderful - 2422 is sparse but with brilliant stars while 2437 is densely packed with dimmer stars and has a strong background glow.

Using a 21mm EP in the 4.5" f8 reflector I could get 103P and either of the clusters in the FOV, but with the nominal field of 2-deg afforded by the 40mm EP I could just squeeze all three in the field. Lovely orange star HIP37379 added to the eyepiece experience.

What a stunning sight - try that in the longer fls of a big dob or SCT!!!

I also photographed it.... but as always a view's worth a thousand pics! Link attached - you might also be able to just make out blue planetary nebula NGC 2438 hiding in NGC 2437 (it's superimposed on the cluster actually, not part of it). It was only as I processed the image that I realised I had missed it in viewing, and it was a bit late to go back out!

Anyway, if you do have clear skies, the comet will be well worth a view in the next night or two as it moves slowly away from the clusters.

Cheers -
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