Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Chasing Comet C/2012 S1 “ISON”

I’m a good fan of DSO. However, occasionally I look at the planets or the moon to contemplate them. Just few days ago, I saw a sketch in Asod and decided for second time to look for a comet. The first time I tried to look for the Panstarrs comet I was unsuccessful because of cloudy weather and because it was close to the horizon. Even though I live at just 4° above the Ecuador with a very pleasant view of both hemispheres, objects close to the horizon are impossible to see from my stargazing site because the 360° view is obstructed by my neighbors’ homes.

Now to talk about chasing Ison, finally early on the morning of the 16th of November there was a “perfect” time to look at the sky: it was clear, the moon had set at 4 am and my neighbor’s lights were off. I had just one hour, before the first sun light appeared to perform the search so I decided to use my 15×70 Binoculars. On that morning, at around 4:50, Spica appeared in my view, so quickly I set up the binoculars to perform the search from the tripod. At almost 5 Arc degrees above Spica and at about 3 Arc degrees to the south from θ Vir, there was curious group of 5 “stars” forming like a “V” shape, but one of them seemed out of focus. Immediately I compared, that view with Stellarium and that blurry star resulted to be the comet ISON. The comet looked like a blurry smooth ball, comparable in magnitude with the stars forming the “V” which have an average apparent magnitude of ±5.7 and even the sun was rising, I had an impression that the comet was showing a tail.

After that amazing first meeting with a comet I wanted more.  So the next morning with a clear sky and good weather at almost the same time as the previous early morning, I decided to go for the telescope and try to see the nucleus of the comet. Unfortunately, once again I had to wait until 4:50 am for C/2012 S1 to appear in my “horizon” (the neighboring roof). This time, it was just about 2 Arc degrees above Spica and had run about 2.5 arc degrees in the path to Spica. I tried first with the kellner eyepiece of 25mm (26x of magnification) but it just seemed like a blurry ball comparable in size with a planet view. It seemed like I had a problem with the focuser but I realized that it was once again the comet which was blurry in the FOV. Then, I tried the maximum magnification I had available with the 4mm Plossl eyepiece (162.5X of magnification) and then, the nucleus seemed like a considerable sized smooth ball surrounded by a fuzzy layer forming like a “U” around the nucleus. The color or the nucleus seemed like a blue-grayish and in my short experience looking at sky objects; this was the brightest I ever saw considering the blue background.

As the comet is going towards Libra, every day that pass it is more difficult to see at night time, but as it approaches the sun, it will be more brilliant. Hopefully, the next time I will try to see it is on November 28 when will be on its closest approach to the sun. I wish to have good and clear skies then.
Please enjoy this marvelous Creator’s piece of art!!!


Edited by Jennifer Steinberg (editor in chief)


1 comment:

  1. You're goood at this! Fiding Panstarrs was a piece of cake for me... but Ison is proving to be a big morning pain! I just can't see it, and I live in what I would consider to be pretty dark skies. Oh well... perhaps after perihelion. Great capture of it! :)