I should add, to be precise, tomorrow the comet as seen from Newcastle rises at 23:37 tonight, transits at 02:15 am where it will be 6 degrees up, setting at 4:53am. It moves quite slowly westeards, not moving very far in the next week.
OK, I'm back at my desk after a weekend in Darwin, yes, latitude 12 deg S! 17P/Holmes cannot hide below the horizon from there!
Well, it did its best to hide behind the cloud. Build-up time is underway in the NT. Saturday evening - clouded out. But Sunday evening - promising....
Full moon, a thin haze and low cloud to the horizon make it a struggle. Add Darwin's skyglow and I really was struggling to understand the sky. My planisphere (set for 35 deg S) is a bit of a guide. Started looking around 10:30pm local time, up at Lee Point, north of the city. Plenty of Moonlight behind hazy cloud (the Moon rose very red in colour and progressed through yellow over 90 min). Cannot pick out stars below the Moon. Where's Capella? Agonise for a while.
It finally clears above the Moon and I pick out Pegasus and Andromeda. I have my 12x60s with me. Can just pick out the smudge of M31, but not good enough to show those who came with me to see the comet. OK, I entertain them with views of the Moon, the belt of Orion, a faint M42 and Aldalbaran. Give up and go back to the city after I still cannot make out any stars below and to the north of the Moon - still hazy, but Capella should be visible??
Packing to leave on the 1:30am () flight. I leave the binoculars outside in the heat and humidity. (I learnt not to carry binoculars from air-conditioned room into outside heat/humidity and expect to use them immediately ).
Back out at midnight, look NNE down the street, clouds have cleared, and between the trees, there it is! 17P/Holmes just jumps out and grabs you! It's up around some 20 deg in elevation and is a bright distinctive orange fuzzball. I was seeing it with bright orange (sodium?) street lights framing the view, yet it was very distinctive. I put the 12x60s on the job and they didn't give me much more information, in fact I had to deal with substantial internal reflections/flaring from the street lights in the view.
I only had about 10 min to look and to show everyone else. I was able to locate Capella lower in the sky, and though I'm not much good at estimating magnitudes, especially for different coloured objects, I reckoned there wasn't much difference.
However it was the colour that struck me - very orange. I did wonder whether it was the effect of some low haze that had made the Moon so red before, but 17P/Holmes was at a reasonable elevation now and Capella, which was lower, was white.
So there it is! Most exciting. I will try from Melbourne, but it will be a challenge. Some 2-3 deg elevation around 2:30am (daylight saving time? - I've lost track, having been in NT, Qld and Vic in a period of 12 hrs!)
Thanks for all the reports and photos - this could be good fun for a while yet.
Future prospects. The comet is likely to stay bright for many days or weeks. The yellow-white color is dust reflecting sunlight, as confirmed by the spectra that have been taken. Dust is what keeps a comet bright — as opposed to gas (comet gas is green and blue), which blows away quickly in the solar wind. Also, the brilliant stellar nucleus and the inner-coma fan suggest that the nucleus is still producing dust. This comet won't fade out soon.
Any tail will probably be short and stubby when, or if, it forms. The tail should be pointing nearly away from us in space — we're looking down its length — since the comet is nearly on the opposite side of Earth from the Sun. From the comet's viewpoint, the Earth and Sun are only about 15° apart, and this phase angle will stay small for many months. So we'll keep looking down the tail.
I, too, was successful last night in spotting it. I thought I'd better
make the effort to see it after seeing person after person going "wow!
wow!" everywhere on the net. Had the alarm set for 1.50am but got up at
1.30am instead and crept outside. I didn't have to go far from the
front veranda to catch it in a gap in the trees to the north of me.
Once I'd seen it in the binos and I realised I could see it easily naked
eye - even with that bright moon nearby! Will be interesting to see it
when the moon is less of a problem, which it will no doubt have changed
appearance by then anyway. (on reading above I don't recall seeing any colour - that could have been because it is low to the horizon for me)
While I was standing outside it struck me that there must be quite a few
people, especially newcomers to the hobby, that must be wondering what
the fuss is all about. Having watched comets brighter than mag 10 for
over a decade now even I have to say this is something out of the
ordinary in comet behaviour. While I have seen a number of faint,
diffuse fuzzy balls without tails, some of them even naked eye too,
none of them have been this bright. None of them have brightened up so
quickly! And none of them would have been easy naked eye under a full
moon!! This makes comet Holmes something extraordinary and worthy of
the attention it is receiving. While not everyone will get a thrill out
of getting out of a warm bed at an awkward hour of the night to see yet
another fuzzy ball, I think a sense of perspective of circumstances of
this event will probably make it a little easier.
Checked out the comet this morning at 2am and was very impressed. I had read somewhere that visually it appears as bis as Jupiter but to my eye it appears many many times bigger! Bright centre surrounded by a giant fuzzy orb. Cool. I hope it is still as bright in about a weeks time when the moon rises after 2am.
just to prove i can see it from my backyard at 34.83 south this is the furthest south pic yet to my knowledge - clouds ruined it again, but i did get a clearish patch after it had passed it highest point for me, too much moisture/vapour in the air from recent rains - unlike the awesome conditions i had late last week on friday morning - 17P is circled - damn comet made me break my vows of photo celibacy ggrrr
1 sec shot iso 400 50mm lens 350D - checkout the LP i have to put up with - double grrrr
From 33.46S I was able to spot it last night. Set alarm clock for 2:30am. Took me a good 5 mins to find it in my frontyard. Not familiar with that patch of sky. Moon & street lights didn't help either. I was looking too high. Gee... it was low,real low, no more than 5 degree I would say. Looks like a BIG globular in my 10X50 but no yellowish color seen. Happy with another one under my belt.
Looks like a BIG globular in my 10X50 but no yellowish color seen. Happy with another one under my belt.
Got out of bed about 1.30am but couldn`t see it for a while as a large band of cloud was sitting to the north..By 2.00 am was nearly gone and then spotted, barely visible to my naked eye and like Cokkie8 mentions looked very much a bright Globular cluster slightly brighter in the centre. Looked a slight muddy color to me between the binos fogging up!!..
Took a dozen quick shots with the canon 300D and 200mm lense..This one is about the best of them.. Shall get some closeups tonight weather permitting!
Great shot Gary, shows its large size there.
It was evident in my binoculars this morning, sky was actually worse then on Sunday morning in Newcastle, a southerly had come through bringing in moisture, leaving the sky hazy and bright in the moonlight, but was still easy to see, has grown bigger and more diffuse