Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Chasing Comets

A quick look to Comet C/2015 V2 Johnson

At the end of last year I realized 2017 was going to be a good year to watch comets in Binoculars and indeed it has been. Unfortunately, I missed some of those comets because of health problems with my back and when I wanted to go back to look for comets, there were stoppers: moon and clouds. I even tried comet 2P/Encke  at the end of February and I though I saw it, I could not confirm or sketch it because of the clouds.

Anyway, here I am in action again and I got to see my first comet with my small 10x50 binoculars. I honestly thought it  would not be possible, but a quick trip to rural skies (Bortle 3/4, blue zone), good transparency (NELM 5.9) and a moonless night gave me access to comet Johnson. I went about 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) from my home to the east, between a little chinese village and the mountains. The sky was totally dark in the north and east; west showed some light pollution, with a huge dome of light in the south.

Johnson was traveling close to Printsteps, the delta star in Bootes.  I tried to use the tripod to hold the binoculars, but Bootes was at the zenith so using the tripod wasn’t an option. Then I laid down on my back and holding the binos found it.  It was in middle of two stars of 8th magnitude at only 2 arc degrees from Printsteps. I struggled trying to sketch it because I had to put the binos down each time I added more stars to the paper and then look for it again, but finally got a decent result that allowed me to perform a digital sketch.

Please turn off the light and try to find Johnson in the sketch. If you succed it means that before it fades, it is time to get those binoculars out and try to find it in the dark skies.



Edited by Jennifer Steinberg (editor in chief).

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