Comet 17/P Holmes
I just couldn’t resist doing a quickie of this very unexpected object. As you may know, comet 17/P Holmes went from an unobscure magnitude 17 to 2.8 in just a little more than 24 hours…which it is now easily seen naked-eye in the constellation Perseus!! The coma is very bright and just a tad off-center, and the surrounding gases are emitting a slight off-yellow color. This comet does not (at present time) display the familiar “tail” that we are used to seeing with other comets, but this is still spectacular to see. Grab your scopes and head outside to see this beauty!!!
I will be observing this excellent and unexpected comet throughout the night and complete many sketches of this comet with differnt EP’s/magnifications. But for now, here is what it is looking like:
Wade V. Corbei
I had a few failed attempts at spotting comet C/2007 Loneos before we finally met.
I caught up with it about 4 degrees below Arcturus in the evening twilight low in
the west to North western sky. With the Moon at around 50% on the eve of the 19th
October this didn’t help detection either. My village is in a hollow so to get a
good horizon I need to walk about half a mile along a track which runs up a hill
at the edge of the village ( Capon’s Hill). I used an old 6″ (150mm) F5 Helios
refractor on an alt-azimuth mount, slung it over my shoulder and set off. Equipped
with a couple of eyepieces and a BAA locator chart. I found it within a few
minutes of commencing the search. The tail was very hard to pick out in the orange
murk of the horizon although the head and coma with bright nucleus showed a hint
of a blue/green tinge. I nudged the scope to initiate movement and employed every
bit of averted vision I could must muster in an endeavour to detect what I felt
(at the time) to be a realistic interpretation.
The eyepiece I used was a 22mm Nagler so I feel the tail in the sketch equates to
around 0.75 of a degree. I tried again the following evening and located the comet
with a little more difficulty but couldn’t detect the tail at all, the 65% Moon
had washed it away.
Guess that I was lucky to have picked the interloper out when I did.
Sketch made in a A6 sketch pad with a HB Derwent pencil and blending stump,
scanned image turned into a negative in photo-shop.
Dale Holt, England
I love comets and observe them whenever I can. Most are just faint
celestial smudges but you never know when things can change! When I
observe them I always make a sketch to capture that moment forever, after
all most never return in our life time so it is so nice to look back on your
records. This week I caught up with current Comet Linear C/2006 VZ13 in
Bootes andmade the attached sketch.
Made simply on white cartridge paper with a graphite pencil & blending
stump at the eyepiece. Scanned and turned into a white on black negative.
Warm regards, Dale Holt
The three comet sketches shown here were made by American astronomer and former
director of Harvard College Observatory, George Phillips Bond, son of the first
director William Cranch Bond. George discovered eleven comets and worked closely
with his father at Harvard College Observatory. Together the Bonds are credited
with the discovery of Saturn’s moon Hyperion at the same time famous British
astronomer and co-discoverer, William Lassell, also spotted it in 1848. The Bonds
were also credited with the discovery of the dusty crepe ring as William Lassell
later named it.
Using the new Daguerre’s photographic process, George P. Bond took the first
photograph of a star (Vega) in 1850 and within 7 years he was photographing double
stars like Mizar and attempting to use photography to determine stellar
One of the most spectacular comets of the 19th century was Donati’s comet named
after its Italian discoverer in Florence. This comet reached a magnitude of -1 in
September of 1858 and had a tail extending 60° across the sky. The first sketch of
Donati’s comet was made without optical aid. The second sketch was made at the
eyepiece of the Harvard College Observatory’s 15 inch refractor. The last sketch
was made at the eyepiece of the same telescope of another comet the following year
called ‘the Great Comet of 1859’. In that same year George took over the
directorship of the observatory from his father. Six years later George P. Bond
died of tuberculosis before reaching his 40th birthday.
Sketches are from Astronomy for Everybody by Simon Newcomb© 1902, McClure,
Phillips & Company, pages 268, 270 and 272
Great comet C/2006 P1 Mc Naught at 08.00 UT on Jan 19th 2007.
The comet rose above the low eastern horizon along with the rosy glow of the
approaching Sun. It was easily visible to the naked eye complete with tail hanging
above a distant telegraph post. This sketch shows the view in 10X50mm binoculars
with a 1 degree long white dust tail pointing at a shallow angle to the NE with the
‘shadow of the nucleus’ feature splitting the dust tail in two. I only had it in
view for 5 min’s before clouds rolled in but what a view it was!
Mag: -1.7 Dia: 3′ D.C: 9 and only 13 degrees from the sun.
Pencil and paper sketch inverted in photoelements.
Martin Mc Kenna
I recently located a pencil drawing of Comet Hale-Bopp in one of old observing
notebooks and decided to reinterpret my hasty sketch using the Photoshop airbrush.
The drawing was made using Tim Puckett’s 24″ reflector with a 55mm Plossl (~90x)
while the comet was drawing close to the horizon. Despite the comet’s low elevation,
I noted a dust tail about five degrees long and a four degree ion tail. The
pseudo-nucleus was almost as bright as Alpha Aurigae (Capella)!
The coma displayed three prominent hoods. The innermost hood appeared to an
astonishing “geyser” jetting from and curving around the nucleus . I can only hope
that the drawing comes close to capturing this amazing feature (I almost named the
sketch “A Bad Drawing of a Great Comet”).
The original drawing was made on the evening of March 29th, 1997.
Smyrna, Georgia USA
Back in the late spring of 2004 I had the opportunity to attend an astronomy
evening at the old Royal Greenwich Observatory (RGO) at Herstmonceux in
Sussex, England. The weather was dreadful, stormy and rainy, when the
evening began, but by the time the lecture had finished the skies were
clearing rapidly and we were able to catch sight of Comet C/2001 Q4 (NEAT),
a fleeting visitor gracing the region of the ‘Beehive’ cluster (M44) at this
time. The comet was just visible as a naked eye object, but binoculars gave
the best view. This is a reworked pastel and acrylic sketch from my
original, very hastily scribbled graphite binocular sketch. One of the
distinctive copper observatory domes provides foreground interest.
10 x 50 Zeiss binoculars
16th May 2004, 23.05 UT
RGO, Herstmonceux, Sussex, England
Coloured and white chalk pastel (plus white acrylic for the cometary nucleus
and star images) on black Canford card
Sketch size 8″ x 10″
SWAN M4 Comet
24th October 2006. around 18:30 UT
Novo Cice, Croatia
This sketch was created on plain A4 paper using graphite pencils and
fingers (for blurring). Later it was scanned and inverted in Photoshop
after some minor contrast and brightness adjustments.
I used 8″ F6 Dobson, and GSO WideAngle 15mm eyepiece. Magnification was
80x and field of view around 0.8°. Limiting magnitude was 5.30 and
transparency was good. Comet was very bright and obvious in finder and
it was near M13. In eyepiece it was real showpiece. Head of comet was very bright,
teal and with star like nucleus. Very faint tail was visible running from the
head of the comet. Estimated length of tail was around 1°. Probably the
most magnificent comet in the year 2006 that I had opportunity to observe.
Comet C/2006 P1 (McNaught)
10 January 2007 2255 UT
Cold Knob, WV USA
Conte’ Crayon on textured pastel paper
For me, getting a look at the famous Comet McNaught was not easy. I had tried and failed two days earlier at sunset when trees and houses blocked the view and it was rapidly sinking lower each evening–in a couple more days it would be gone for observers in the Northern Hemisphere.
Determined to see this comet before it disappeared, I trekked to the top of a nearby mountain to get a clear view of the western horizon and set up my binoculars. It had snowed 6 inches the night before, but now it was clear. Before the end of civil twilight, the comet popped into view. As the orange winter twilight progressed, McNaught took on the appearance of a burning ember just above the horizon.
The sketch is taken from a graphite pencil sketch I did in the field. The most notable features at 10x were the bifurcated tail extending about 30 arcminutes to the northeast and the very bright coma. The comet against the orange background of sunset was unforgettable. I have seen many images of McNaught in magazines and online that were taken on the evening of January 10th and they all show that orange winter sunset.
Of course, Comet McNaught went on south to become the brightest comet in 41 years, visible during daylight, and with a tail so long that it extended back to the northern hemisphere. But I saw it before it became famous.