[AZ-Observing] Comet Machholz Shaping Up

  • From: Tom Polakis <tpolakis@xxxxxxx>
  • To: az-observing@xxxxxxxxxxxxx, amastro@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sat, 11 Dec 2004 09:38:39

There were no less than six telescopes in our group last night, and
unfortunately none of them were  small refractors, the ideal comet-viewing
scope.  We made the best of it, though, getting nice views through Kerry
Weatherford's 10-inch using a 41mm Panoptic eyepiece.  Since the phase
angle of the comet is so small, the foreshortened dust tail is not
impressive, as it is a stubby feature extending less than 1 degree.  Much
more impressive is the ion tail, which is only several arcminutes wide for
its entire length, which is more than 2 degrees.  This tail can be followed
most of the way back to the core until the coma brightness is too high to
pick it out.

Without the telescope, it reminds me of a globular cluster.  I put its
brightness midway between that of M13 and Omega Centauri, when they are
seen high in the sky.

The good news is that the comet is only getting brighter.  And further good
news (for most of us) is that it is moving north.  It should be quite a
sight in the coming weeks.

Tom

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