December 22, 2004

Are you into viewing extraterrestial objects? If you are one of the relatively few on this planet that enjoys locating fuzzy patches of light in the night sky, Comet Machholz is just for you.

Nowhere near the splendor of Hale-Bopp, but a "naked eye" object (I recommend binoculars) that is brightening a bit faster than anticipated. Story of it's discovery (the guy's 10th comet) Easy to find (currently to the west of Orion's Rigel), charts here (through 1/1) and here (after 12/30). You don't even have to get up early, this puppy is up all night. Best viewing conditions will occur when the moon is out of the sky, which should coincide with when Comet Machholz is expected to be brightest. I saw it last night for the first time, even with the moon nearby. It will be getting higher in the sky each night. If this interests you, you may also like the wunderground Astromomy app, which will draw the night sky for your web browser, based on your zip code (U.S). Similar pages for other parts of the world, anyone?

  • Lovely conjunction of Comet Machholz with three other objects on APOD today.
  • Excellent. I'm hoping to catch a photo myself, which I did with Hyakutake and Hale-Bopp. Especially fine photo-ops: While the comet is a naked-eye object, it will pass close to two naked-eye clusters. On January 7, the comet passes less than 3° from the Pleiades, while on the night of January 27/28 it will pass about 5° from the Double Cluster in Perseus.
  • {celestial banana}
  • Cool. I'll have to keep an eye out. If the damn rain stops.
  • Thank you mecurious! I have very fond memories of Hale-Bopp. We're promised nasty cold but crystal clear weather over the next several days. I'll have to drag Mister shinything out for a walk with the binocs.
  • I very fondly remember Hale-Bopp, as it was my first comet. I couldn't see anything from the ground, thanks to the light pollution that is ANn Arbor, so I climbed to the top floor of a parking garage (above all the street lights). Looked up into the sky, expecting to have to do some searching and picking out of a small fuzzy drop in a sea of other fuzzy drops. Instead was a magnificant canvas of light splashed over what seemed to be half the sky. Of course, now that I'm in New York I'm going to have to climb a lot higher to escape the light pollution. Oh, and thanks for the handy star chart what shows Orion. All the articles I read have referenced lattitude and longitude and angles and all the crap that nobody BUT a true astronomy geek would understand.
  • Mecurious, thanks for the links. This is cool, I just got a new telescope for Christmas, what a great way to break it in. Hale-Bopp was magnificent. I sat on the roof of my house and watched it for many nights.
  • oooooooooooooh, lucky bratcat! Can I come over to your house? We've had such lousy overcast here that I've missed the last several night displays of any sort. :(
  • Sure BlueHorse, I got lots of nanners to share.
  • Here is another good link on how to photograph the comet. (and other objects).