Saturday, October 6, 2012

Comet 168P/Hergenrother

Yesterday I heard reports that Comet 168P/Hergenrother had made a sudden brightening, with some observers estimating the comet to be around 10th magnitude.  Predictions for this periodic comet have it around 15 magnitude, which would be out of reach of my telescopes from my suburban yard.  Last night I opened up my observatory to look for this comet with my TEC 140.  I utilized the Minor Planet Centers Ephemeris Service to generate coordinates for the comet and sent my mount off into northern Pegasus to see  what this icy interloper was up to.

The comet was a nice visual treat after so many months without making any cometary observations.  It was obvious in the 140mm telescope, with a condensed bright nucleus and a short stubby tail.  I am notably poor at making estimates of magnitude but I would optimistically report that it was a little brighter than 10th magnitude.  Naturally, I wanted to try and take a picture with my Canon T2i DSLR, so below is a 25 second exposure at ISO 1600, taken at 0421 UT on October 6th.  Interestingly, this image is far less impressive to me than the visual observation of the comet.  I am headed to Portal, AZ next weekend and if the weather cooperates I will make some sketches of the comet.

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