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The weather prospects for the next week is not looking too good and with the Comet moving South I wanted to observe it whilst I had a clear night.

I set up my Skywatcher 150P on my Alt/Az mount and set the alarm for 4am. I was using a RDF + my Altair 60mm finderscope and the main EPs were the 20mm Myraid 100 degree, 13mm Ethos and 9mm Myraid.

I decided to star hop from the close stars HR4783 and HR4784 and move south going past the Whale Galaxy. The Stellarium sofware was spot on and I could easily see the Comet. Unfortunately the Moon was still bright and I could not detect the tail.

Decided to test out the 8" Newt which had been donated to the Astro Society. I had to use my 1.25" EPs - 24mm ES68 and Celestron 10mm Ultima and again the view was quite easy but no tail. Because the Comet is close to M3 on the 3rd December I checked out this GC to make sure it had cleared my roof top.

Finally I used my Celestron 12x70 binos and I was just able to detect the Comet although it was not easy. Let us hope we get some clear skies when the Moon is out of the way.

 

 

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2 hours ago, Mark at Beaufort said:

Let us hope we get some clear skies when the Moon is out of the way.

Amen.

I really must get myself organised for an early morning trip out to my dark site; I'd hate to miss a decent comet because I can't get out of bed & ready in time.

I don't often transport the 10" dob but I think it may be worth putting it in the van just to get the extra aperture for the tail.

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I went out to.my darker sky location last night. When I returned I left the Skytee set up in my garden as there was no rain forecast. Got up at half six and skies were still clear. Within five mins had the scope mounted and was seeing my first view of Leonard. The sky was on the turn to grey, the dimmer stars were close to not being seen in the finder. M3 was just visible in the 8x50. Half the finder field up I could just sense a hazy patch. Checked the main view at 40x and there it was. Easily seen, could just get the sense of a tail in the brightening sky. Nice placement just above Arcturus. 120mm achro. Gonna try keep regular view of it weather permitting. Nice start to the day 🙂

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Had a shot this morning too. I'm not an early bird and my plans for a 5am start were closer to 6am! Still, the skies were only just starting to brighten, so it wasn't too bad.

First with 10x50 bins. Easy to find M3 just by scanning up from Arcturus and the comet was about 2 degrees NNW from there. Both easily fitting n the same FOV.

Then on to the ST80 with 30mm plossl. The comet was visible with direct vision and the tail (about 1 degree's worth) visible with AV. The sky was getting lighter by now and I guess that if had I got my bum into gear an hour earlier, the view would have been better. But still, a comet tail is always a win!

Back then to the bins, but by now the comet was getting quite hard to see.

I'll keep an eye on it over the next week, if I can. The weather doesn't look great for the next few days though. Tomorrow would have been interesting, as it will pass M3 very closely - just 6 arc minutes at 4am! Perhaps too close to be able to distinguish the two as separate!

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26 minutes ago, Stu said:

Nice report @Mark at Beaufort

What sort of brightness is it now? Must give it a go, but struggling to drag myself out of bed that early, plus waking the dog up would not be popular!! 😱😱🐶

Stu I did a separate observing report under binoculars. Basically I had both the Comet and M3 in the same fov using my 15x70 Apollo binos. M3 is about 6.4 mag and the Comet is a little fainter 6.8. I certainly could not see it naked eye.

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Another go with the 10x50 bins this morning.

The sky was pretty clear - could see M81 and 82 and just about make out M51.

At 6am, the comet was less than half a degree SE of M3. Obviously brighter than yesterday but not quite as bright as the globular cluster. Possibly a hint of the coma in the binoculars. Its tail passed right through M3, so made it hard to distinguish. Looking forward to seeing some images today.

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Sadly cloud and drizzle here. There are about 10 days of opportunity to see it in the morningn before it gets too close to the horizon. Should get even brighter hopefully... 

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19 hours ago, Stu said:

Nice report @Mark at Beaufort

What sort of brightness is it now? Must give it a go, but struggling to drag myself out of bed that early, plus waking the dog up would not be popular!! 😱😱🐶

I observed A1 this morning and it's definitely fainter than M3 but it was noticeably brighter than it was last week.   This morning it was barely in the same FOV as M3.  Good position for comparisons.  Telescopius.com lists M3 as Mag 6.3 with a size of 18'.   SkyTools 4 estimates A1 as Mag 5.5 and the same size 18'.   SkyTools 4 brightness estimate was clearly wrong.  The observed magnitude of A1 in TheSkyLive.com was Mag 7.5.   That was closer to what I was seeing.

I was observing with my 12 inch scope.  A1 is pretty large and diffuse with a bright almost stellar central condensation.   I saw just a hint of a tail more visible if I jiggled the scope.   It was hard to see just how far the coma was going out.    Sort of like looking at the core of M31 and trying to see how far the arms reach in light polluted skies.

Anyway, A1 is getting brighter by the day and is worth getting up early for.

 

Phil

 

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Went out at 5am this morning. It's too low to observe from the back garden at that time now, so took the 10x50 binos down to the beach. Unfortunately the (very) high tide meant that I couldn't get far enough away from  the lights on the prom to get a very suitable view. I could find it, but it was hard to see under the bright orange lamps.

So back home and I waited until 6am when it was just high enough to see above the neighbours' roof. I think this will be the last chance for me to see it from the garden, as it's moving so fast now. Luckily, I could still see the much lower M5 to the SW of the comet in a gap. The comet is much larger and brighter than this globular, which is mag 5.9. So I'd estimate the comet to be mag 5 at least, although I have no experience estimating the magnitude of extended objects. It could well be brighter, as it appears so much larger. I guess this would make it just naked-eye visible in a dark sky?

Anyway, it is much brighter and larger than my last observation in the binos. A hint of a brighter nucleus with averted vision. Could I see the tail? I think  so, but considering  I knew the direction it is trailing away from the comet, was it just a case of 'suggested vision'? It was too late to get the little grab-and-go scope out, as the sky was brightening and neighbours lights coming on.

Any future observations will involve travelling, or waders!

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@Pixies we were watching it at the same time at 6 am :-) I found it about mag 6, but was hampered by it's low altitude and hazy sky conditions. I saw a faint longish tail which disappeared quickly with the brightening sky.

Tomorrow morning looks good weatherwise but the comet will be even lower. I think for me the best chance will be at 6:30am, when it is a bit higher. It should be visible even in the twilight with scope or big bins.

Edited by Nik271
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