Saturday, November 17, 2007

Comet Holmes from Columbia U. Outreach

Session name: 20071116.2015

I headed up to Columbia University's outreach event to meet up with Kin & Charlie. Jan Kratochvil was giving a public lecture on digital imaging. I recently met Jan at the Urban Starfest. When I arrived Jan was the only one in the classroom as others were on the rooftop inside the domes. This allowed for some one-on-one where he showed & told of panoramic shots and described how to make a gigapixel panorama.

From the rooftop, I could see with the unaided eye Comet Holmes as a very dim smudge near Mirfak in an 8 o'clock direction. Some cirrus clouds coating parts of the sky while more offending stratus clouds approached from the southwest did not distract us from looking. In the binoculars it was more obvious as a large pale ghost of what it was weeks before. The 12.5" telescope offered no justice as the comet's low, low surface brightness does not contrast well with our background sky. Some of the public said they couldn't see it. The comet is noticeably larger but I don't recall if I saw the brighter central condensation. I do know I didn't see the pseudo nucleus. Observing Comet Holmes in low power binoculars continues to provide the most pleasuring and satisfying view, especially with the star field it inhabits.

Local astronomer and comet hunter Tony Hoffman shares a photo of the comet on the same night from Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn.

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