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Old 01-03-2009, 03:18 PM
 
Location: Road Warrior
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Anyone know which comets are visible to the naked eye in the Northern Hemisphere from the month of January to April?
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Old 01-07-2009, 03:43 PM
 
Location: Minnesota (Blaine)
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I have a GREAT site for you. It's Heavens-Above.com and it has everything you need. Once you set your position you can see what is available to see above you. ISS is tracked and you can find out when to look for it. Visibility is calculated. Then you can click a link for tracking that event giving position in the sky and times, relative to you.

Check it out. It shows the ISS (International Space Station) Shuttle Missions, All Satalites. You can even find out what each satalite is when it was launched and where. The site lists all visible objects Planets Moons Comets on and on...

I kid you not - they will even tell you how to view the lost tool bag from the space walk. (Bino's are needed for this object)

Eight comets are listed with a magnetude of visibility better than mag. 12, so yes they are out there. This is your site.
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Old 01-07-2009, 05:19 PM
 
Location: Tyler, TX
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Mag 12 is very dim - my best telescope (a 5" refractor) might be able to bring in something that dim under very dark skies. Anything that dim is not a naked-eye object.

The limit for naked-eye visibility is around 6 to 6.5, under very dark skies. If you're anywhere near a city, it goes down (smaller number means brighter object). If you're near a BIG city, forget seeing anything less than the most spectacular comets without some sort of optical aid (telescope, binoculars).

The attached animation is composed of four pictures of comet 17P/Holmes, taken in late October, 2007. At the time, it was at magnitude 2.5 or thereabouts. As it moves, you can see it getting dimmer. Each frame is a 15 second exposure, using my digital camera - it's not very well suited for astrophotography, but it does ok with wide field shots.

A quick search turned up this site, which lists a lot of the comets that are around right now. Not all of them (in fact, very few [if any]) will be naked-eye objects, even under dark skies. You'd be amazed what a pair of binoculars can pull in, though. If you don't have one, it's worth the small investment. Check out that list and pay attention to the magnitude, and the date that the magnitude is listed for - comets get brighter/dimmer very fast, and just a few days can make a big difference when it comes to brightness.

Have fun!

Edit / P.S. Heavens Above IS a great site - I wasn't suggesting otherwise. (Just wanted to make sure that was clear!)
Attached Thumbnails
Star gazing and comet gazing?-comet-holmes-animation.gif  
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Old 01-07-2009, 05:45 PM
 
Location: Road Warrior
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Thanks for the info guys, it seems I can see this comet with the naked eye from the info you gave me C2007/N3(Lulin) do you guys have any info on this comet?
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Old 01-07-2009, 06:43 PM
 
Location: Tyler, TX
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Don't really know much about that one, but found this page which shows some history on its discovery and whatnot.

If you let me know the date(s) and time(s) you expect to be viewing it, and where you'll be viewing it from, I can generate some charts for you to help you locate it in the sky.
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Old 01-07-2009, 06:58 PM
 
Location: Road Warrior
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swagger View Post
Don't really know much about that one, but found this page which shows some history on its discovery and whatnot.

If you let me know the date(s) and time(s) you expect to be viewing it, and where you'll be viewing it from, I can generate some charts for you to help you locate it in the sky.
That is splendid! Probably 1/10-1/20 or so on top of the highest peak I can find here, say Golden, Colorado.
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Old 01-07-2009, 07:36 PM
 
Location: Texas
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I always encourage people to get away from city lights. People who are in town and never see the Milky Way, don't have any idea what they are missing and will likely die of old age before seeing it.

If your eyes aren't 20/20, binoculars will remedy that.

I grew up about nine miles from a small town. Though I have some idea of what I'm missing now, I always am amazed once I see thousands of stars, again.
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Old 01-08-2009, 12:43 AM
 
Location: Tyler, TX
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RangerDuke08 View Post
That is splendid! Probably 1/10-1/20 or so on top of the highest peak I can find here, say Golden, Colorado.
No good... It'll rise over the southeast horizon at about 4am, and probably get lost in the dawn's light.

If you'll be around in late February, that's when it'll be at a proper altitude for viewing, and at a reasonable time, too. Should be around mag 6.

I attached an image of the sky at 12am on Feb 22 (Saturday night/Sunday morning), as seen from Golden. There's also a corresponding sky chart. On the chart, north is at the top of the page, and you view it by holding it overhead, with the top of the page pointing north.

It should be pretty easy to find the comet, due to its proximity to Saturn. Find Saturn first - it'll look like a very bright star about 3/4 of the way up the sky just east of due south. Check the chart to see where it'll be in relation to Saturn. Remember to view the chart as an overhead map, otherwise the east and west will be reversed.

You'll probably need binoculars to get a decent view of it. If you can see it with the naked eye, it'll be a small, very faint little fuzzy patch. With binoculars, even a relatively cheap set, you'll get a MUCH better view of it (and a lot of other things!).

If you have (or can borrow) a set of binos, check out Saturn. It'll have an oval appearance through them - it's the rings. If you look at the middle star of Orion's sword, you'll be able to see that most of that region is actually a nebula. There's quite a lot you can see through binoculars...

Have fun!
Attached Thumbnails
Star gazing and comet gazing?-2009-02-22_12am_golden.png  
Attached Files
File Type: pdf 2009-02-22_12am_Golden.pdf (101.3 KB, 236 views)
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Old 01-08-2009, 09:40 AM
 
Location: Minnesota (Blaine)
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Comets visible to the naked eye are rare in deed and even more rare are the ones that are entirely visible. The comet Kahotek (sp?) which visited us back in 96 or 97 I forget, was spectacular. We tried like heck to see Haleys when it passed by but living in the city it was so difficult.

Anyways - location is so important to sky viewing. I live in rural Minnesota and the Milky Way is highly visible. I understand that almost 3/4 of the world can't even see the Milky Way. City Light is Pollution to sky watching.

If you wish to break into this hobby try looking at the ISS first. Getting accustom to watching highly visible satalites makes sky watching much more easy, only due to becoming accustom to using the data that helps you see what you are looking for. Clicking on Ground Track option and you'll see Where you are in relation to the object, where it will be when it will be. It's as easy as it can be.

Just read the stuff on the site about using Heavans-Above. It's very helpful. It works perfectly. One of the cooler things I've watched is the ISS when a shuttle is ready to dock with it. They fly in perfect unisom flight across the sky. Whole Sky Chart is NOT easy to use early on. Use Ground Track first.
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Old 01-08-2009, 01:42 PM
 
Location: The Rock!
2,370 posts, read 7,221,028 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slamont61 View Post
Comets visible to the naked eye are rare in deed and even more rare are the ones that are entirely visible. The comet Kahotek (sp?) which visited us back in 96 or 97 I forget, was spectacular. We tried like heck to see Haleys when it passed by but living in the city it was so difficult.

Anyways - location is so important to sky viewing. I live in rural Minnesota and the Milky Way is highly visible. I understand that almost 3/4 of the world can't even see the Milky Way. City Light is Pollution to sky watching.

If you wish to break into this hobby try looking at the ISS first. Getting accustom to watching highly visible satalites makes sky watching much more easy, only due to becoming accustom to using the data that helps you see what you are looking for. Clicking on Ground Track option and you'll see Where you are in relation to the object, where it will be when it will be. It's as easy as it can be.

Just read the stuff on the site about using Heavans-Above. It's very helpful. It works perfectly. One of the cooler things I've watched is the ISS when a shuttle is ready to dock with it. They fly in perfect unisom flight across the sky. Whole Sky Chart is NOT easy to use early on. Use Ground Track first.
I remember easily seeing the Milky Way when I was a kid growing up out in the sticks. Now I only see it when we go camping and the sky cooperates (which is actually rare as it seems to always rain when we go camping.) It's indeed a magnificent sight!
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