Thursday, May 04, 2006

Saw the comet but nothing special

Since I'm posting this today it speaks to how impressed I was of Comet 73P Schwassmann-Wachmann. Last Friday, Kin, Charlie and myself observed the comet over two nights with a 4" Tak refractor on the first and a homemade 6" newtonian on the following. In low power component-C was easier to see, whereas component-B took magnification better. In all cases it was very difficult to get much detail. If we didn't have ephemerides for the fragments it would have been very easy to overlook. Charlie and I did speak of a sub-stellar nucleus and a bit of coma. I'm not entirely sure we saw a comet tail...and not taking any notes or making any sketches does not help my memory. Check out Charlie's blog since he reports on the objects more religiously than I do.

One thing that I recall, which davep reports in one of his logs, is a positional change over time. Kin & I first observed the comet fragments. Charlie had not arrived yet as he was attending an event at Columbia University. When he came down to TotL, we observed the fragments again and component-B moved noticeably with respect to two field stars that were used as marks on a ruler.


Image credits: Under Free Art License copied picture from Wikipedia - Comet Schwassmann-Wachmann 3 (73P) C component, as seen 19 APR 2006 from Mt Laguna, Calif. 55sec @ f/2.8 @ ISO 1600, Canon 20D, 400mm f/2.8 on Meade LXD55. Paul Martinez & Philip Brents.