Comet Holmes through my ’scope

By Phil Plait | October 26, 2007 8:27 pm

I went out last night (Thursday) and took some images and video of Comet Holmes. The video was not what I had hoped; my setup is rather, ah, primitive (I hold the camera up to the eyepiece), so I won’t show it here. But I did get one not-too-bad image.

This is pretty much what it looked like by eye, too: a bright nucleus with a circular fuzz around it. The yellow glow is striking; when the comet erupted there must have been lots of dust in the ejecta, which reflects and slightly reddens sunlight. All the images I have seen look pretty much like mine, except some have more stars in the image (I guess this means I faked it). Several more are showing up on BAUT, too.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, Cool stuff, Pretty pictures

Comments (27)

Links to this Post

  1. Bonfire, friends, and a comet « Mr. .NET | October 28, 2007
  1. Cameron

    Nice! I got my scope out last night and found it, and that’s about what it looked like. Very reddish. The full moon was kind of annoying, though.

  2. Bigfoot

    There’s just something special about funneling the light with a telescope and scooping it right into your eyes.

    I got my 8″ SCT out last night (purchased used — the best $500 I ever spent!) and fumbled around until I had the comet centered and focused. What a fantastic sight, even with glaring full moon and surrounding city lights! My friend and I were both amazed at how large it appeared. The pinpoints of light from other stars in the eyepience helped us appreciate how large the comet’s apparition was in comparison.

    Thanks for calling this one out!


  3. Michelle

    I watched it again tonight before these annoying clouds rolled in for the weekend. I think that thing doubled in size since the first night. It’s really great to see it evolve like that.

  4. eddie

    I don’t know if it was atmospheric viewing conditions or the fact that I knew right where to look this time, but Comet Holmes seemed much more prominent tonight.

    I had no problem picking it up with the naked eye right away – my vision is far from perfect these days – and it seemed to be a good bit more expansive than last night. It appeared to be a yellowish-orange fuzzy disc in the binoculars.

    And again, a bright moon didn’t seem to diminish the the view.

    An amazing sight, and I hope it only gets better. As much as this comet has surprised us so far, I’m still holding out hope for the appearance of a tail at some point. It’s teased us so to this point, so why the heck not?

  5. Chip

    Your image illustrates why it looks so eerily like a planet through an eyepiece. No tail, and the bright nucleus resembles sunlight reflecting off a shinny spherical surface.

    P.S. Is there a tail we don’t see because its facing away from us?

  6. Bad Albert

    Just got home from seeing Comet Holmes at the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada’s observatory here in Edmonton, Alberta. Fantastic views with their 4″ Zeiss refractor and Celestron C-14.

    If there are any readers in the Edmonton area, I highly recommend it. The weather forecast for this Saturday and Sunday night calls for clear skies. The observatory is open for public viewing from 7 to 10:00 PM both nights.

  7. Where’s it at? Back in my first year, I did a bit of volunteering Friday nights at the observatory on the roof of the Physics building at the U of A.

    Now that I’m 3 hours south, I haven’t been up there in a long time.

  8. Tim

    It is as bright tonight as it has been since the first brightening a couple of days ago. Glowing, golden…like a smelt piece of gold in the sky. When I look at it through my binoculars, I have to think it’s telling us something. Do comets
    portend doom?
    I dunno.

  9. Bad Albert

    RASC’s Edmonton observatory is at the Telus World of Science, north east corner of 111th Ave. and 142 St. on the south field.

  10. Can you see it from the Southern Hemisphere at all?

  11. pfc

    Phil, sorry if you’ve mentioned this before (pretty new here), but what’s your scope?

    @Kurt and Lemming – lots of links have been posted already. See if this works. If not,

  12. Mark A. Siefert

    That’s more or less what I saw last night. I’m glad I was finally able to find it. The weather really as crapped out on us out here in Cheeseland.

  13. Stu

    Grrr… very jealous of you all for the wonderful views you’re getting! Here in the north of the UK I swear that the clouds rolled in the moment this story broke, and they’ve not parted yet… :-(

    Missed Comet McNaught ‘cos of cloud too, (grumble grumble…)… :-(

  14. AndreH

    Since 5 days, nothing but clouds:-(

    Nice Pic

  15. Stephen

    Netherlands the same as the UK – lovely weather the day before this was spotted and eleven-tenths cloud ever since. :-(

  16. Allen Thomson

    Like Chip, I wonder why the reflecting cloud is so symmetrical. No sign of jets or other structure that I can see. What does that say about the mechanism that’s caused the brightening?

  17. gopher

    I think that it is still too far from the sun to have a tail. I *think* what we are seeing now is just the outer layer of the comet exploding, and it is now hovering around the comet (and slowly expanding outwards). Dunno if that is right though.

  18. I’m beginning to be a little miffed at the weathermen DownEast here in NC.

    We’ve been in a drought all summer, but something cool goes on in the night sky and sure enough, they give us rain and clouds for days on end.

    Stupid weathermen.

  19. aiabx

    That really looks like what I saw as well. I kept wondering if the core had split into pieces just at the threshold of my vision.

    It would be a better fake if there was astronaut in front with shadows pointing the wrong way.

  20. BlondeReb3

    Round my parts it’s been overcast at night for the past few evenings.

    And we need to find a way to get Dr. BA some high tech “filming through a telescope/binoculars” equipment! The picture’s great but I’d love to hear his commentary on a video!

  21. csrster

    I got my 4″ refractor onto this thing from Denamrk tonight and one interesting feature is the high definition of the edge of the coma. I think that sharpness, together with the near circularity, is what makes it look so “planetary”, although it’s much bigger than any actual planet – it looked huge at 100x.

  22. Inertially Guided

    The torrential rains of the past four days have ended, and tonight the moon is close to the Pleiades as I search for Comet Holmes…

    Holy Toledo! What a sight in 9x63s…and I am on a naval base with security lighting all around! Can’t wait for a chance to catch this one from a darker site…

    Phil, is this a record-breaker of some type? I’ve never seen a coma so bright.

    Tom E.
    USN Guy

  23. Kevin Conod

    I was fiddling with Celestia yesterday and it looks like the position of the comet is such that even if it does grow a tail it would be pointing away from us and we won’t get a good view of it.

  24. Chas

    Clouds and rain for 2 days, then clear sky in Chicago on Saturday. Observed at 21:15 CDT (02:15 UT 10/28). Looked just like BA’s picture, circular coma (6-10 minutes?) with kernel in middle. I didn’t pick up a yellow color, it looked more white to me last night. Tried to take picture thru eyepiece, but had no luck.
    Daughter in Marquette, MI described it as “glittery”.

  25. I thought I saw a point of light through the (Washburn University in Topeka) telescope on Thursday and Saturday nights, but those who knew better said it was the nucleus, but way off to the edge of the inner core of dust. Then last night (Sunday) saw a second point with binoculars outside the inner core of dust but inside the secondary circle of dust – two nucleus or a star? Anyone’s guess? Really cool.

  26. Cali

    I remember seeing a comet when I was a little girl and it shruck through my town. But I don’t remember anyone making a big deal out of it.


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