Object : Comet 103P/Hartley and Open Clusters NGC 884 / NGC 869
Date : October 07, 2010
Time : 19:00-20:00 LST / 02:00-03:00 UT
Location : Wittmann, Arizona USA
Medium : Charcoal pencils, fine markers, painting brush, windows paint for inversion and color touch up, white paper.
Magnitude : comet-( ~7,5 or 8) open clusters combined magnitude of ( 4.2)
Weather : New Moon!, dark and clear skies, no clouds, no winds, ambient temperature of 85 deg. F.
I finally gave it a try to sketch this all inclusive view of the Double Cluster and comet Hartley. The naked eye open clusters of NGC 869 and NGC 884 are clearly visible, but the elusive comet 103P/ Hartley is still a bit of a challenge to notice without the aid of binoculars or a rich field telescope. Comet Hartley is so diffused it was reported to have a 31 arcminute coma as of the date of this report. Depending on how much light pollution you are pestered with, that might keep you from seeing the comet in its entirety- or you may be looking at only the brighter portion of the nucleus. Speaking of brightness, I was able to compare its magnitude to some defocused stars nearby and I conclude to estimate it at 7.5 or 8. Obviuosly not a naked eye object, just yet! It would’ve been nice to detect the color but the diffused nature of comet Hartley doesn’t bring out the green hue comets are associated with. Right now only in photographs will you enjoy that treat.
The Double Cluster with an average magnitude of 4.2 is best appreciated under the view of binoculars. From the city, it’s hard to notice the the faint misty glow, but from rural areas, it stand out almost immeadiately if not with averted vision. Through the binoculars or a 4 to 6 inch telescope the clusters show their true beauty. Mostly composed of young blue stars, they also host a sprinkled few orange stars that add to the visual interest. Both are great low magnification targets to be admired. Keep looking, keep sketching, keep submitting, maybe comet Hartley has a surprise for us in the next few weeks!
Dark and clear skies,