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Haunter of the Dark

Started by mcneely_dupe_5262, 10/24/2007 07:15PM
Posted 10/24/2007 07:15PM | Edited 10/24/2007 07:15PM Opening Post
I just came in after observing the Comet Holmes. I saw news of the comet outburst tonight at work. As I drove home, I noticed the comet as a naked eye "star" in the constellation Perseus. It was slightly brighter than nearby Delta Persei. I noticed that air currents made the comet shimmer like nearby stars.

My first view of the comet was exciting in the TeleVue-85. Using a 24mm Panoptic, the comet was quite startling. It resembled a bright, tan-colored planetary nebula (for lack of a better term). The stellar nucleus was surrounded by a tan disk. The nucleus itself was segmented into a bright star-like component, slightly off-center, with a dimmer, yet still bright fan of material emerging towards the west.

This comet is quite bright, and I observed it nicely up to 200x using a 6-3mm Nagler zoom.

I must say that this is one of the strangest looking objects I have ever seen. Thanks to the Almighty for providing such a show before Halloween (especially since we missed out on Comet McNaught).

The view of the comet reminded me of a line from H.P. Lovecraft's story Haunter of the Dark, "the three-lobed burning eye..."

Michael Aaron McNeely
TeleVue Forum Moderator
Posted 11/29/2007 06:51PM #1
It has been over one lunation since Comet Holmes appeared and I wrote the previous post. I had many good views of the comet early on. We next had a long period of cloudy weather, and I haven't been able to observe the comet in the TV85 until tonight.

It was moderately clear. The comet was a naked eye glow in the constellation Perseus. It was quite a bit brighter than the Double Cluster and Andromeda Galaxy, both of which are visible to the naked eye from my semi-rural location.

In the 3-degree field delivered by a 24mm Panoptic in my TeleVue-85, the comet resembled a ghostly sea ray drifting against a background of faint stars. I counted about 17 stars that appeared immersed in the comet's coma. The comet possessed an axis pointed roughly northwest to southeast. Its center was a brighter ellipsoid surrounded by a fainter, half-hemispherical glow. The glow appeared to fan out towards the southeast. I couldn't discern a bright nucleus like the comet had early on.

The TV85 is really an ideal scope for observing such large, faint objects. The comet filled roughly a quarter of the 3-degree field provided by the scope. The sight was incredibly beautiful and mysterious. I felt as though I were witnessing some prehistoric beast coming to life. This has been the most exciting comet since Hyakutake and Hale-Bopp in the '90s. The naked-eye view of Comet Holmes reminded me of a smaller versiou of the immense naked-eye coma possessed by Comet Hyakutake. Yet Holmes has a slow rate of apparent drift against the background stars similar to Hale-Bopp, which was visible many months before its grand appearance.

Happy holidays.

Michael Aaron McNeely
TeleVue Forum Moderator