BAA electronic bulletin
For those that don't mind getting up in the early hours there are four
comets that can be seen in binoculars, although you will need large
binoculars for three of them.
Best is 2013 R1 (Lovejoy) which has brightened rapidly and is now on
the borders of naked eye visibility. It is visible from about
midnight onwards and is highest as dawn breaks. At the moment the
Beehive Cluster in Cancer makes a good starting point for sweeping
towards the comet, which looks a bit like a globular cluster, but see
the Computing Section webpages for good finder charts. Those that
don't like an early morning could wait until later in the month when
it is at its brightest, but low in the sky below the Plough.
As previously explained 2012 S1 (ISON) never looked very likely to be
the spectacular sight brighter than the full moon and visible in broad
daylight that some pundits predicted. In the event it has brightened
even more slowly than my cautious predictions. The nucleus appears to
be smaller than the normal limit for surviving perihelion, so if you
want to see the comet, now is probably the time. From a darkish site
it is visible in 20x80B, but is just a faint fuzzy patch. A telescope
may show the prominent tail that is visible in some of the excellent
images that you can see in the Section image gallery. Predicting its
future brightness is a bit of a lottery, so keep an eye on the Section
web page for the latest news, magnitude predictions for the bright
comets are usually updated on Thursdays.
2P/Encke has a long history of observation, and this is one of the
better returns for Northern Hemisphere observers. It is beginning to
drop into the dawn twilight, but can still be seen as a large fuzzy
patch. Images show a narrow gas tail.
Finally 2012 X1 (LINEAR) provided a surprise when it suddenly
brightened by five magnitudes, in an outburst similar to those seen in
17P/Holmes and 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann. It was clearly a classical
explosive outburst and images show the steadily expanding coma.
Although just visible in large binoculars, it will probably fade from
view as the coma becomes more diffuse.
Observations of the above comets are welcome, particularly visual
estimates of the total magnitude. Details of the technique and format
for reporting the observations is in the Section guide to observing
comets, of which a new issue is in preparation. As always, the
Section web page is updated several times a week and will usually have
the latest information on observable comets.
Director, Comet Section
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Good Clear Skies
Colin James Watling
Various Voluntary work-Litter Picking for Parish Council (Daytime) and
also a friend of Kessingland Beach (Watchman)
Lyra Website: https://sites.google.com/site/lyrasociety/
Real Astronomer and head of the Comet section for LYRA (Lowestoft and
Great Yarmouth Regional Astronomers) also head of K.A.G (Kessingland
Astronomy Group) and Navigator (Astrogator) of the Stars (Fieldwork)