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All observing logs mentioning comet Holmes

2008-02-09


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2008-02-09 14:45 UT
To: 2008-02-09 14:50 UT
Equipment: Solarscope
Temperature: 11.1C ...
Dew Point: 6.4C ...
Humidity: 73% ...
Wind Speed: Calm ...
Pressure: 1026.8hPa ...
Notes:

Very clear day. I took the Solarscope out to do a quick sunspot count.

Sun

From: 2008-02-09 14:45 UT
To: 2008-02-09 14:50 UT

No spots or other marks visible on the Sun.

Location: Woodland Waters (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2008-02-09 19:55 UT
To: 2008-02-09 23:55 UT
Equipment: Antares 905
Lomo Lubitel 166B
Meade 10x50 Binoculars
Naked Eye
Notes:

Joined John and Kevin at Woodland Waters for an observing session. Not the best of nights, some thin cloud and contrails sticking around, also quite damp and a little hazy at times.

I brought my Antares 905 and John brought his Evostar 150.

Checking for Comet Holmes

From: 2008-02-09 20:10 UT
To: 2008-02-09 20:20 UT

I started out the session by seeing if comet Holmes was still visible to the naked eye. Given that the last time I saw it it appeared to be about the same brightness as the Double Cluster, and given that I could see the Double Cluster, I guessed I stood a chance of it was still of similar brightness to the last time.

After looking carefully for a couple of minutes I decided that it must be even fainter than the last time. I then grabbed my 10x50 binoculars and had a look in the general area around Algol and I pretty much saw it right away. Very faint and very diffuse. Only just brighter than the background sky. If I wasn't looking for it I probably wouldn't even have noticed it.

Started a Star Trail

Time: 2008-02-09 20:33 UT

I set the Lomo Lubitel 166B up on a tripod and started a star trail.

The camera was loaded with Ilford FP5+ 400 (120 roll film), the aperture was set to f8. Like the last time I tried this this was an experiment. This time I was interested to see what results I'd get with a faster film.

The camera was roughly pointed in the general direction of the Pleiades (M45) and the Hyades in Taurus.

Saturn

From: 2008-02-09 20:35 UT
To: 2008-02-09 20:45 UT

Had a brief view of Saturn via John's 'scope. Much like my last observation the view was very "soft" with no real detail visible. No shadow of the rings on the planet could be seen although, once again, I did get the impression that the rings were two separate and detached objects either side of the planet.

Titan was nicely visible.

Mars

From: 2008-02-09 20:47 UT
To: 2008-02-09 21:00 UT

Had a look at Mars via the 905 with the 6mm eyepiece and the 2x barlow. Just like always, I couldn't get any detail out of the planet. One thing I did notice though was that there was a definite hint of a gibbous phase. The planet did seem to be "taller" than it was "wide".

Stopped the Star Trail

Time: 2008-02-09 21:01 UT

Stopped the star tail I'd started earlier.

Taurus Star Trail

M1

From: 2008-02-09 21:15 UT
To: 2008-02-09 21:40 UT

Decided to have a look at M1 given that I'd not taken a look in over a year. With the 905 and the 25mm eyepiece it was very easy to find and, unlike previous observations, seemed to stand out really well. Despite the conditions during the evening (which were less than ideal) I'm pretty sure it was a better view than the one I once had via the 130M. Although it was the usual indistinct light patch it appeared to contrast with the background sky better than I'm sure I've seen it before.

M65 and M66

From: 2008-02-09 21:55 UT
To: 2008-02-09 22:05 UT

Had a look at M65 and M66 via John's 'scope and his 42mm eyepiece. Just two very faint patches of light, mostly needing averted vision to see them. It was impossible to make out any distinct shame or to say what their relative orientations were.

A break and a chat

From: 2008-02-09 22:10 UT
To: 2008-02-09 22:45 UT

Had a coffee and food break and a chat. Given that it was getting very cold and damp this was needed.

M95 and M96

From: 2008-02-09 22:50 UT
To: 2008-02-09 23:00 UT

Had a look at M95 and M96 via John's 'scope and his 42mm eyepiece. Just as with the previous view of M65 and M66 they appeared as two very faint patches of light, mostly needing averted vision to see them.

905 totally fogged up

Time: 2008-02-09 23:09 UT

I went to use the 905 and noticed that it was dripping with dew and that the main lens was totally fogged up. Decided to call it a night as far as the 905 was concerned.

Trying for the Eskimo Nebula

From: 2008-02-09 23:15 UT
To: 2008-02-09 23:35 UT

We spent some time using John's 'scope to try and locate the Eskimo Nebula but never managed to locate it. I made a note to check in some of my books and see how easy it should be to locate.

M3

From: 2008-02-09 23:40 UT
To: 2008-02-09 23:52 UT

Given that Canes Venatici was quite high up now we decided to have a look at M3 with John's 'scope. I first found it with my monocular to be sure of the location and then we got it in John's 'scope. With his 42mm eyepiece it was obvious that it was a globular cluster although no detail could be seen. Switching to his 15mm eyepiece we could see a hint of mottling in it giving the impression of a collection of starts without resolving any actual stars.

End of session

Time: 2008-02-09 23:55 UT

By 23:55 UT everything was terribly damp so we decided that it was time to call an end to the session.


2008-01-05


Location: Woodland Waters (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2008-01-05 20:00 UT
To: 2008-01-05 23:45 UT
Equipment: Antares 905
Lomo Lubitel 166B
Meade 10x50 Binoculars
Naked Eye
Notes:

Joined John Turner at Woodland Waters for an observing session. Dark and clear skies when we arrived. Also rather cold and windy.

I brought my Antares 905 and John brought his Evostar 150.

Mars

From: 2008-01-05 20:30 UT
To: 2008-01-05 21:10 UT

After a bit of time to get things set up we turned our telescopes on Mars. I first had a view, unfiltered, via John's Evostar. The image had quite a lot of fringing and was somewhat unsteady (probably partly due to the state of the atmosphere, but also down to the wind buffeting the 'scope). No detail could be seen. John then added a pale blue filter (#82A) and that improved things somewhat. While the image still seemed too bright it was then possible to see a hint of detail on the surface. At least two major darker areas were visible.

I then set up the 905 with the 6mm eyepiece and the 2x barlow. The planet presented a good sized disc although no surface detail was visible. The wind didn't help things either so periods of a steady image were few and far between. The view itself seemed pretty similar to previous views I've had via the 130M.

It seems that it's a struggle to get any detail out of Mars using either of my 'scopes.

I then tried the #21 Orange filter but that didn't make any noticeable difference.

I stuck with the planet a little more, waiting for steady moments, but never managed to get any hints of any detail via the 905.

Started a Star Trail

Time: 2008-01-05 21:15 UT

I set the Lomo Lubitel 166B up on a tripod and started a star trail.

This was nothing more than an experiment. The camera was loaded with Ilford FP4+ 125 (120 roll film), the aperture was set to f8 (the Lubitel is supposed to give sharper images when stopped down a little). While probably not the best setup (stopped down somewhat, slowish film) I was curious to see what would come out and I also wanted to finish the film (it already had 5 shots on it taken elsewhere).

The camera was roughly pointed at part of Ursa Major rising over some trees.

M42

From: 2008-01-05 21:20 UT
To: 2008-01-05 21:42 UT

Had a look at M42 using the 905 and the 32mm eyepiece. Noted that it was rather faint (almost to the point of not being visible) with direct vision but was easy enough to make out with averted vision. If the stars in the view were anything to go by the view was still very unsteady.

I then added the Neodymium filter and it appeared to make quite a difference. Probably the greatest difference I've seen it make so far. The background sky appeared darker and the nebula appeared to stand up to direct view a little more. With averted vision the view was obviously much better. Some actual "detail" was visible too.

Stopped the Star Trail

Time: 2008-01-05 21:43 UT

Stopped the star trail I'd started a little earlier. Here is the resulting image:

Ursa Major Star Trail

Started a Star Trail

Time: 2008-01-05 21:49 UT

I started a second star trail using the Lomo Lubitel 166B. Same as before: Ilford FP4+ 125 at f8.

The camera was roughly pointed at Leo rising from behind some trees.

Saturn

From: 2008-01-05 21:50 UT
To: 2008-01-05 22:10 UT

Took a look at Saturn with the 905 and 6mm eyepiece. Very soft/musy view. No detail visible at all. However, Saturn was still quite low down so that wouldn't have helped.

Noted that, especially when compared to my last view of it, the rings had closed up quite a bit.

The most interesting thing about the view was the way that the rings didn't appear to be "attached" to the planet. In other words, the rings appeared to be two objects, one either side of the planet, with a distinct gap between them and the planet. The view reminded me very much of some of the very early drawings of the planet that I've seen in books.

I added the 2x barlow but the view was very mushy to the point of being no good. That said, the "detached ring effect" was still there.

Possibly Comet Holmes

From: 2008-01-05 22:13 UT
To: 2008-01-05 22:24 UT

While stood looking at the Double Cluster with the naked eye I spotted something close by, near Algol, that appeared to be about the same size and of a similar brightness to it. Initially I was confused about what it was. I quickly grabbed my monocular and had a look and could see that it was a faint but noticeable misty patch. Given that I wasn't aware of any object in that location, and given that I couldn't find any such thing on my charts (not that I expected to — I'd have known about such an object if it were a "fixed" item in the sky), I suspected that it was comet Holmes.

This came as quite a surprise because I thought it had long faded from naked-eye view.

Stopped a Star Trail

Time: 2008-01-05 22:25 UT

Stopped the star trail I'd started a little earlier. Here is the resulting image:

Leo Star Trail

Back to Comet Holmes

From: 2008-01-05 22:27 UT
To: 2008-01-05 22:40 UT

Went back to looking at what I suspected was comet Holmes. This time I used the 905 and the 32mm eyepiece. There was something there, a faint brightening of the sky, but nothing distinct. I also had a look via John's Evostar with a 42mm eyepiece and the same thing could be seen: slightly indistinct brightening of the sky.

I then grabbed the 10x50 binoculars and had a look with them. Using averted vision the object looked very much like a comet so it seemed obvious that I really was looking at comet Holmes.

Since this observing session I've checked with a couple of charts that show Holme's position for that evening and it turns out that my suspicion was correct. I'm kind of surprised by this as I really didn't think that the comet would be a naked eye object any more.

Started a Star Trail

Time: 2008-01-05 22:42 UT

I started a third star trail using the Lomo Lubitel 166B. Same as before: Ilford FP4+ 125 at f8.

The camera was roughly pointed in the general direction of Cassiopeia.

M81 and M82

From: 2008-01-05 22:44 UT
To: 2008-01-05 22:55 UT

Had a brief view of M81 and M82 through John's Evostar via the 42mm eyepiece. Very impressive sight.

M81 looked very much like a (more or less) face-on galaxy. I couldn't make out any hint of any spiral structure, it looked more like an oval shaped misty patch with a bright and distinct concentration in the middle.

M82 was the most impressive of the two. It looked like a thin line and I could also see a hint of the dust lanes that it contains.

Back on Saturn

From: 2008-01-05 23:00 UT
To: 2008-01-05 23:13 UT

Now that it was higher in the sky I returned to Saturn with the 905 and 6mm eyepiece (with and without the 2x barlow). Still no detail of any kind visible although the image wasn't quite so soft this time. In both cases (with and without the barlow) I was still seeing the "detached ring effect".

Stopped a Star Trail

Time: 2008-01-05 23:14 UT

Stopped the star trail I'd started a little earlier. Here is the resulting image:

Cassiopeia Star Trail

Started a Star Trail

Time: 2008-01-05 23:18 UT

I started a fourth star trail using the Lomo Lubitel 166B. Same as before: Ilford FP4+ 125 at f8.

The camera was roughly pointed in the general direction of Orion.

Stopped a Star Trail

Time: 2008-01-05 23:45 UT

Stopped the star trail I'd started a little earlier. Here is the resulting image:

Orion Star Trail

End of Session

Time: 2008-01-05 23:46 UT

During the previous star trail exposure we started to pack up and we finally called an end to the session at 23:46 UT.


2007-11-15


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2007-11-15 13:35 UT
To: 2007-11-15 13:40 UT
Equipment: Solarscope
Temperature: 7.6C ...
Dew Point: 2.6C ...
Humidity: 70% ...
Wind Speed: Calm ...
Pressure: 1024.9hPa ...
Notes:

Very clear day. Took the Solarscope out to do a quick sunspot count.

Sun

From: 2007-11-15 13:35 UT
To: 2007-11-15 13:40 UT

No spots or other marks visible on the Sun.

Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2007-11-15 19:19 UT
To: 2007-11-15 20:02 UT
Equipment: Naked Eye
Sky-Watcher Explorer 130M
Temperature: 1.5C ...
Dew Point: -1.6C ...
Humidity: 80% ...
Wind Speed: Calm ...
Pressure: 1025.6hPa ...
Notes:

Mostly clear and cold evening, some cloud around and getting increasingly misty. Waxing crescent Moon very low in the south. Decided to get the 130M out to have a look at comet Holmes.

Comet 17P/Holmes

From: 2007-11-15 19:19 UT
To: 2007-11-15 20:02 UT

At first glance I struggled to see comet Holmes with the naked eye. Only after some effort, and using averted vision, could I see a faint fuzzy blob somewhere near Mirfak. By the looks of things the comet had faded quite a bit since my last observation a couple of nights ago.

The comet was easy enough to find with the 130M and the 32mm eyepiece. It appeared as a large, blueish, ghostly and distorted circle. While there was still no sign of any tail the impression I'd had from previous observations of it being an incomplete circle, with one part of the edge being much less brighter than the rest, was even more obvious.

I noticed that it appeared to be relatively bright in the middle, fading further out and then getting a little brighter again towards the edge (other than the faded edge I mention above).

The overall impression I got was of a large faint circle where most of one half had been smudged away (I'm guessing this is the side where any tail is/would be).

Switched to the 15mm eyepiece and noticed right away that the comet was pretty much too big to fit into the field of view. Moving the main part of the comet out of view, and looking backwards from the "faded" part of the edge of the comet, I did get the impression that there was "something" there. A very slight hint of blue, a hint of colour, or something, that was a little different from the background sky. Could have been a hint of the tail but couldn't say for sure.

Switched to the 25mm eyepiece and this gave a better view than with the 15mm but didn't show anything different from what I'd seen with the 32mm.

Switched back to the 32mm and added the Neodymium filter to see if it would have an effect. While it didn't reveal anything new it did remove the blueish colour (which is probably to be expected) but it also seemed to make the comet stand out from the background sky a little better.

I could get both the comet and Mirfak in the same field of view with the 32mm, a really nice sight that I'm sure would have made for a great bit of astrophotography.

The overall impression I got was that the "main event" was over. It seems, from the view I had, that not a lot is being given off by the comet now and that the main shell of debris is expanding to the point that it won't be visible to be pretty soon.

By 20:02 UT the sky was starting to get a little more hazy and it looked like it was only going to get more and more foggy so, having seen what I wanted to see, I packed up.


2007-11-13


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2007-11-13 14:15 UT
To: 2007-11-13 14:20 UT
Equipment: Solarscope
Temperature: 9.4C ...
Dew Point: 5.3C ...
Humidity: 76% ...
Wind Speed: 8.1mph ...
Wind Dir: West South West ...
Pressure: 1006.9hPa ...
Notes:

Cloudy all morning but cleared into the afternoon so I took the Solarscope out to do a quick sunspot count.

Sun

From: 2007-11-13 14:15 UT
To: 2007-11-13 14:20 UT

No spots or other marks visible on the Sun.

Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2007-11-13 19:15 UT
To: 2007-11-13 19:38 UT
Equipment: Naked Eye
Meade 10x50 Binoculars
Temperature: 6.4C ...
Dew Point: 3.2C ...
Humidity: 80% ...
Wind Speed: 2.4mph ...
Wind Dir: North North West ...
Pressure: 1006.9hPa ...
Notes:

Moonless evening with some cloud rolling in from the west. Decided to head out with the Meade 10x50 binocular to have a quick look at comet Holmes while I had the chance.

Comet 17P/Holmes

From: 2007-11-13 19:15 UT
To: 2007-11-13 19:38 UT

Comet Holmes was still visible to the naked eye although, right away, I could see that it was more "fuzzy" and not quite so bright as the last time I observed it. It was also obvious that it had moved a fair bit since the last time I'd observed it. It was now fairly close to Mirfak.

It also looked a little different in the binocular too. While it was still circular looking, with no hint of a tail, it now appeared to have a bright "spot" in the middle of the circle and the brightness of the circle dropped off as you looked further out to the edge (the difference here being that the last time I observed it the edge of the circle appears to be quite bright compared to the rest).

I did notice that part of the edge still also less bright than the rest of the edge.

By 19:38 UT cloud had taken over so I packed up and headed back indoors.


2007-11-01


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2007-11-01 19:21 UT
To: 2007-11-01 20:09 UT
Equipment: Naked Eye
Antares 905
Temperature: 12.3C ...
Dew Point: 9.6C ...
Humidity: 84% ...
Wind Speed: Calm ...
Pressure: 1028.6hPa ...
Notes:

Went out with the Antares 905 to get my first view of comet Holmes via a telescope.

Fairly clear night. No Moon. Bank of cloud visible to the west.

Comet 17P/Holmes

From: 2007-11-01 19:21 UT
To: 2007-11-01 20:09 UT

I quickly got comet Holmes in the 905 using the 32mm eyepiece. A very impressive sight. Large coma with an obvious bright patch in the middle, fading a little further out and then appearing brighter again towards the edge.

Despite some reports that I'd seen elsewhere I could see no hint of any sort of tail.

I added the Neodymium filter to see if it might help bring out any more detail in the comet. It did seem to reduce the "glow" of the background sky a little but I wouldn't have said I could see any more detail in the comet.

Next I switched to the 25mm eyepiece. The view didn't look that much different in terms of what I could see of the comet. The coma looked a little more "circular" with averted vision than without and I did get the impression that one side of the comet wasn't quite as bright as the other.

After a switch to the 10mm eyepiece the view was still good and it was now more obvious that the outer ring of the coma wasn't the same brightness, it was now very obvious that one side wasn't as bright as the other. This gave the impression that I was looking at something that had leading and trailing edges.

With the 6mm eyepiece (and with the Neodymium filter now removed) it was still a very impressive sight. The coma filled a large part of the field of view. The overall impression was still that there was a central bright era within a bright ring and the area between the two being less bright. I also started to notice that there was a hint of blue to the comet.

Even at this magnification, and also at the other magnifications mentioned above, there was no hint of a tail.

Looking at the comet with the naked eye I noticed that, compared to other recent views, the comet seemed a little more "fuzzy" than I'd noticed before. Also, once again, I estimated the brightness to be something close to Delta Persei.

Overall I felt that the best view was with the 32mm eyepiece. Via that there was a very definite sense of viewing a ghostly 3d ball of "smoke".

By 20:09 UT the sky was starting to get quite misty, it was obvious that the view was more "milky" as seen via the 'scope. So, given that things seemed to be going downhill and given that I'd have a good look at the comet I decided to call an end to the session.


2007-10-31


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2007-10-31 21:25 UT
To: 2007-10-31 21:45 UT
Equipment: Naked Eye
Meade 10x50 Binoculars
Temperature: 10.6C ...
Dew Point: 8.1C ...
Humidity: 85% ...
Wind Speed: Calm ...
Pressure: 1025.1hPa ...
Notes:

Another evening where I was busy with other things while it was clear out. Given that I had a little bit of free time I wandered out with the Meade 10x50 binocular to have a look at comet Holmes.

Pretty fine night, a small hint of mist. No Moon.

Comet 17P/Holmes

From: 2007-10-31 21:25 UT
To: 2007-10-31 21:45 UT

With the naked eye comet Holmes looked more or less the same it did during my previous observation. At a rough guess I'd have said that the brightness was again similar to that of Delta Persei.

With the binocular the view was a little different to that of two nights ago. While the overall view was the same the variation in brightness that I'd noted seemed press pronounced, less obvious.


2007-10-29


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2007-10-29 20:50 UT
To: 2007-10-29 21:10 UT
Equipment: Naked Eye
Meade 10x50 Binoculars
Temperature: 7.4C ...
Dew Point: 4.3C ...
Humidity: 81% ...
Wind Speed: Calm ...
Pressure: 1011.6hPa ...
Notes:

Since first hearing about its outburst I've been unable to observe comet Holmes. Tonight was quite clear but I was out for the early part of the evening. After I got home I headed out with the binocular to have a look.

Comet 17P/Holmes

From: 2007-10-29 20:50 UT
To: 2007-10-29 21:10 UT

When I got outside I noticed that there was a huge bank of cloud heading in from the west. By the looks of things I only had 15 or 20 minutes to observe before the cloud would be a problem.

Even to the naked eye it was obvious where the comet was. It was obvious that Perseus contained a (slightly fuzzy looking) star that shouldn't be there. I roughly estimated its magnitude to be around that of Delta Persei.

With the binocular the view was very different. The comet was a large, circular fuzzy patch, somewhat reminiscent of a planetary nebula (albeit brighter and bigger than any I've observed before).

I could make out that the brightness seemed to vary slightly over the diameter of the comet and that it looked a little denser out towards the edge.

Ideally I'd have liked to have gone on to get the 130M or the 905 out to have a better look but, sadly, by 21:10 UT the bank of cloud had moved in and I could no longer see the comet.


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Dave Pearson <davep@davep.org>
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