Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Green Comet Visible This Week

Comet's Green Halo

Photograph courtesy Gregg L. Ruppel

Blurred stars seem to cut through the green halo of comet 103P/Hartley 2 in a five-minute-exposure photograph taken through a backyard telescope in the United States on Saturday. In recent weeks the comet has been drawing closer to Earth, and Hartley 2 will make its closest pass tomorrow, offering prime viewing via binoculars and telescopes. (See comet pictures.)

More information 

Local information, from Skytools software with a 8 inch Orion Skyquest

On this night (20/21 October 2010)  103P/Hartley is best visible between 04:12 and 04:32, with the optimum view at 04:13. Look for it in Auriga, fairly high in the northern sky during morning twilight. It is easy visually in the Orion SkyQuest XT8 Dob. Use the Ultima 42mm for optimum visual detection. It is magnitude 6.2 with a diameter of 21.0'.

In the following 30 days this object is easy visually from October 21, and again from October 31 on, with the best view coming on November 3. During this period it will reach peak brightness of magnitude 6.2 on October 22 and rapidly move higher in the sky.

103P/Hartley will next reach perihelion in late October. Also in late October this comet will pass within 0.1 AU of the earth.

At this stage the almost full moon is a big factor in seeing this ball of ice. (Hannes Pieterse)

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