Monday, February 25, 2013
Birthday Comets (PanSTARRS and Lemmon, 25 February 2013)
I had a very nice Birthday dinner with the family, then relaxed with Big Bang Theory and home-made ice-cream sundaes. After days of cloud or having clear nights but other obligations that preculded skywatching, I decided to try for comet PanSTARRS again.
With Smallest one heading off to bed, I grabbed my 10x50 binoculars and headed out to see if I could see C/2011 L4 PanSTARRS. I didn't have much hope as CometAl hadn't seen anything in 7x50's last night (though he did get a good image).
But as soon as I swept my binoculars along from Fomalhaut I saw it, as clear as a bell. There was a really obvious little tail too. This was at 9:05 pm, with the comet a scant 6 degrees above a slightly cloud hazed horizon.
After glorying in the sight of this comet (finally!!!), and trying to get an estimate of its magnitude (in out defocus method, definitely brighter than Delta PsA (mag 4.2) but by how much I can't say), I hurried back home to get my camera.
By the time I got back and set up, the comet was only 3 degrees above the horizon and deep in the mruk, but still readily identifiable in binoculars. I took some shot with normal Zoom and 3x Zoom, the 3x Zoom came out best, with the comet just identifyable (in the embiggened image you can see the tail).
Now that was a good birthday present, tomorrow, I will try and catch it earlier.
After catching the comet I had a few domestic chores (went out to buy milk), I cam back and had a look for 2012 F6 Lemmon. It was really quite obvious even in the Moonlight. Hard to judge how bright, but probably dimmer than 47 Tucanae. It was like greeting an old friend.
All in all, a pretty good birthday (a great statistics workshop, schnitzel with the family and two great comets).