C/2004 Q2 (Machholz)
Sketch and Details by Martin Mc Kenna
Three jets issuing from the nucleus of C/2004 Q2 Machholz on Dec 28th at 18.22 LT and Dec 29th through the 8″ F/6.3 S. Cass at 49X. Over a period of several nights I could see the position of the jets changing due to the rotation of the comets nucleus. These jets were bright white linear, pencil thin features that were easy to see. CCD imagers confirmed my visual sighting several nights later. Machholz was an unusual comet as it stayed far from the sun, was visible all night high in a dark sky and was easy with the naked eye. Not all comets are so considerate as many bright new comers remain hidden within bright twilight close to the sun skirting the horizon.
I was delighted to be the first in Ireland to track down this comet – my first observation was made late on a winters night before Christmas using a Meade 3.5″ ETX from a nearby pitch – a location which let me see low down into the eastern sky. I found the comet quickly above distant rooftops and in good time to as 20 min’s later dense mist and murk obscured the this sky sector for days afterward!