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Grumpy Martian

Comet hunting instruments.

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I was just thinking about how comet hunting . Those that look for comets I have been told look at the western sky just after the Sun has set. But what instruments are used?

Would they use wide field binoculars, Newtonian telescopes.

I would be interested to know.

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Hi Martin, one of the greatest comet hunters of all time (whose name escapes me ATM) used binoculars but he also practically memorised the sky so could spot anything out of place.

Nowadays it's all automated with blinking software.

Dave

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27 minutes ago, Peter Drew said:

ADavey-T.

 

George Allcock.   :icon_biggrin:

Thanks Peter, memories going, I did have a passing  thought but got confused with  Alcock and Brown but they were the first guys to fly the Atlantic so must be stored in my brain in the adjacent spot.

There was also a prolific Aussie, Bradfield ? who used a scope and practically discovered a comet a year for many years.

Dave

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Not to mention the Japanese guy whose name also escapes me!   :D

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It also helps being on the right side of the Pacific rim where there are few other 'scopes preceding you in your dawn sky.

There have been several memorable Japanese but early proponents of the art were Ikeya & Seki, overlapping the Alcock era.

( Comet Ikeya-Seki 1965 was my second 'spectacular' comet, the first was Arend-Roland 1956, there were other fuzzies not worth remembering ! :)

Edited by SilverAstro

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Leslie Peltier used a 6" F8 achromat, with which he discovered several comets. Austin and Bradfield back in the 80s and 90s also used 6" F8 achromats. Roy Panther used a 8" short focus Newtonian. E E Barnard used a 5" F15 equatorially mounted refractor to discover some of his early comets. And after being put off planetary observing by some tiny minds in the BAA, George Alcock used a pair of 110mm binoculars and 80mm binoculars as his instruments of choice.

Basically, anything can be used to discover comets. It's more to do with the mental attitude and determination of the observer. Keep observing for comets and youre likely to eventually discover one. And even if you don't, you'll have a great time trying.

5a82e23e94763_2018-02-1313_08_29.png.013ab2c887227db3ba11fd88a31385fa.png

5a82e261efe01_2018-02-1313_09_25.png.9a2801bfad0e0b5ee5092cc861cf0a6a.png Roy Panther and his 8" comet seeker.

5a82e299561b0_2018-02-1313_08_51.png.b161aea21cd55cd750436feef31564e1.png

5a82e2b624269_2018-02-1313_07_15.thumb.png.3362f189113c8cb71a0c59a788df4535.png

5a82e2cda84db_2018-02-1313_07_39.png.95af91fbbd63eb2d87d982dc2c705f61.png

5a82e2e3e70fa_2018-02-1313_08_08.png.2347fa053f0519bd24c60cb45a083946.png

Edited by mikeDnight
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Done a bit of research on Bill Bradfield, apparently it took him 15months and 260 hours of searching to find his first comet.

Are you sure you want to look for them Martin ? :grin:

He did go on to be the sole discoverer of 18 comets eventually though.

Probably better placed in OZ than the UK

Dave

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... but professionals and SOHO don’t observe fairly close to the sun, so there is still the possibility to find new stuff... but as said, you got he be determined and patient.

good luck

PEter

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2 hours ago, Davey-T said:

Done a bit of research on Bill Bradfield, apparently it took him 15months and 260 hours of searching to find his first comet.

Are you sure you want to look for them Martin ? :grin:

He did go on to be the sole discoverer of 18 comets eventually though.

Probably better placed in OZ than the UK

Dave

I get your drift Dave.. I have enjoyed seeing the fruits of these comets well after their discovery. I also hope to see more in the future. Would'nt know what to do with one if I discovered it,lol.

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4 hours ago, Davey-T said:

Done a bit of research on Bill Bradfield, apparently it took him 15months and 260 hours of searching to find his first comet. Are you sure you want to look for them Martin ? :grin:

That was quick !

re Alcock (from wiki)  "but in 1953 * he decided to start searching for comets and in 1955 began searching for novae. His technique was to memorize the patterns of thousands of stars, so that he would visually recognize any intruder. In 1959  **   he discovered comet C/1959 Q1 (Alcock), the first comet discovered in Britain since 1894,

* a smidgin before me ,  ** just after we were all astounded by Arend-Roland :)

I discovered a comet once, it was huge, couldnt miss it, it loomed large above my house like an evil eye harbinger of doom, visible even through a little haze (as is usual in the UK)  spooky ,

it was during one of my -paying little attention to astro-news sources phases- soon I realised I had been beaten to the discovery by  Yuji Hyakutake, !! But it was a sobering experience of how the Brittunculi and ancient Chinese could be spooked by these things :)

PS Mr Bopp (of Hale-Bopp) passed away back end of last year I think ?

PPS Actually, I skip a few decades, the first I discovered was Comet Bennett, 69/70,  I was driving an over-nighter from Sao Paulo to Recifé, and as dawn broke there - ! a magnificent spectacle !!  :)

Edited by SilverAstro
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I remember going out one night and seeing this huge bright ball of light in the sky, perfectly visible with the naked eye, and " discovered " comet Holmes outburst, unfortunately several thousand other people discovered it at the same time :grin:

Dave

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On 13/02/2018 at 21:31, Davey-T said:

Done a bit of research on Bill Bradfield, apparently it took him 15months and 260 hours of searching to find his first comet.

Are you sure you want to look for them Martin ? :grin:

He did go on to be the sole discoverer of 18 comets eventually though.

Probably better placed in OZ than the UK

Dave

In this weather and that amount of time. I would be found frozen to the telescope,lol.

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Terry Lovejoy is also a well know comet hunter. Seeing his last discovery, C/2017 E4 was one of my observing highlights of last year - as it was totally unexpected. He used a SCT for that discovery.

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/ask-the-experts-how-do-amateur-astronomers-discover-comets/

andrew

Edited by andrew63
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Computers are a wimps way of doing things! Letting a computer discover comets is a cop-out! No skill and nothing learned! There's no one to one with the night sky, and there's no challenge or heart racing with each new personal discovery of the countless minute fuzzies that sail into the field of view. 

I hope Grumpy Martian goes full steam ahead with this and discovers Comet Grumpy in the next two years or so. 🌠 Even if he discovers nothing, he'll become a formidable visual observer! :bino2: 

:blob7::blob6::blob5::blob3::blob1:

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1 hour ago, mikeDnight said:

Computers are a wimps way of doing things! Letting a computer discover comets is a cop-out! No skill and nothing learned! There's no one to one with the night sky, and there's no challenge or heart racing with each new personal discovery of the countless minute fuzzies that sail into the field of view. 

I hope Grumpy Martian goes full steam ahead with this and discovers Comet Grumpy in the next two years or so. 🌠 Even if he discovers nothing, he'll become a formidable visual observer! :bino2: 

:blob7::blob6::blob5::blob3::blob1:

I have become a grumpy whimp with this weather. But as we get to spring I shall be looking towards the west just after sunset.

 

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On ‎15‎/‎02‎/‎2018 at 23:08, mikeDnight said:

Computers are a wimps way of doing things! Letting a computer discover comets is a cop-out! No skill and nothing learned! There's no one to one with the night sky, and there's no challenge or heart racing with each new personal discovery of the countless minute fuzzies that sail into the field of view. 

I hope Grumpy Martian goes full steam ahead with this and discovers Comet Grumpy in the next two years or so. 🌠 Even if he discovers nothing, he'll become a formidable visual observer! :bino2: 

:blob7::blob6::blob5::blob3::blob1:

Now come on Mike, don't be bashful, just say it exactly as you see it :laughing4:

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13 minutes ago, paulastro said:

Now come on Mike, don't be bashful, just say it exactly as you see it :laughing4:

Thanks for pointing that out Paul! I didn't mean to imply Martin wasn't already a formidable visual observer, but rather that Comet Hunters, such as Alcock, Peltier, Bradfield and many others, were in a whole different league to observers like me and YOU! :grin: Oops, I'm at it again!! :o

Sorry Martin, I'm sure you're a top observer already! :icon_salut: Sorry Paul, I know you're are!! :icon_salut::icon_salut:

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On 2/13/2018 at 21:59, PeterW said:

... but professionals and SOHO don’t observe fairly close to the sun, so there is still the possibility to find new stuff... but as said, you got he be determined and patient.

They also use hi-tech equipment and the dreaded computers, so whilst I sympathise with the @mikeDnight view/take on computers I say "fight fire with fire", :) all these automatic survey things have stolen too much from us already !

I think I read somewhere ? that looking up/down out of the plane of the ecliptic improves chance of being one-up on the surveys, certainly seems right for the SOHO ones ,, which is used by geeks as well to search for intruders C3 lasco images is it, been a while since ,,,  ?

Edited by SilverAstro
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On 17/02/2018 at 17:23, mikeDnight said:

Thanks for pointing that out Paul! I didn't mean to imply Martin wasn't already a formidable visual observer, but rather that Comet Hunters, such as Alcock, Peltier, Bradfield and many others, were in a whole different league to observers like me and YOU! :grin: Oops, I'm at it again!! :o

Sorry Martin, I'm sure you're a top observer already! :icon_salut: Sorry Paul, I know you're are!! :icon_salut::icon_salut:

I'm really grumpy now!! Lol.

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Posted (edited)

Had a great evening with late Bill Bradfield in Adelaide OZ along time back.   He could almost discover a comet to order such were his skills.  He made a point of searching the parts of the  sky NOT easily visible from Japan with great success :-))

Nytecam

Edited by nytecam

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