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PostPosted: Thu Mar 30, 2017 7:37 am 
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Comet Is Making Its Closest Pass to Earth Since Its Discovery This April Fool's Day

http://www.sciencealert.com/not-kidding ... fool-s-day

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Northern Hemisphere stargazers with small telescopes and potentially even binoculars will have the chance to see the comet from dark vantage points between dusk and dawn from now until mid-April, when it will be passing across the stars of the constellations Ursa Major and Draco.


Southern hemisphere astronomers? Suck it, you're stuck with SLOOH. LOL

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 30, 2017 9:29 am 
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It would be more clear if the opening line had been phrased "This April Fool's Day (01-April-2017), the Comet Is Making Its Closest Pass to Earth Since Its Discovery." The original makes it sound like the comet was discovered tomorrow, which would be a bit like going back to the future.

Anyway, 41P already is a binocular object. I saw it last Wednesday night (March 22) with little difficulty using 10x50s from Belleplain State Forest. However, the dark skies there were essential. Last night (March 29), I looked from my home area in light-polluted Maple Shade, NJ, and could not see it with 16x70s, even though the position, and the respective field stars, were easy to identify off the northern side of the Big Dipper's handle.

Note, the 41P finder charts in the May 2017 issue of Sky & Telescope magazine are "significantly off." See Bob King's online S&T article about 41P, which has an updated finder chart. As usual, I've been using my own accurate charts generated with SkyTools.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 30, 2017 11:33 am 
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JoeStieber wrote:
...The original makes it sound like the comet was discovered tomorrow...

Hmm, I wasn't looking at the calendar very closely -- it would, of course, be the day after tomorrow.

I should also note that seeing 41P last Wednesday (March 22) turned out to be a fortunate night to do so. It was inside the bowl of the Big Dipper near Merak (Beta Ursae Majoris), so it was easy to locate initially with my 80 mm, f/6 apo refractor (even though I didn't have a reflex finder or a finder scope with me). In the same field of view as the comet, M97 (the Owl Nebula) and the galaxy M108 were visible. Here's an image of them taken at roughly the same time about 4 miles northeast of where I was.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 02, 2017 7:51 am 
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Since my last post, I tried spotting 41P a couple of times near my home, but was unsuccessful. I made it to the Pines this morning before the start of astronomical twilight and I was able to see 41P near Thuban with my 16x70 binoculars. It has a fairly large coma, and as a result, low surface brightness, so any light pollution is a real detriment.

However, the other binocular comet that just entered the scene, C/2017 E4 (Lovejoy), was quite distinct in the 16x70s. It was easy to find about 5° left of Enif, the nose of Pegasus, and was similar in size and brightness to nearby M15. There's a Bob King article about it at S&T online. I'll give it a try in the coming days from my home area to see how it fares against light pollution.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 05, 2017 3:29 pm 
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And yet another accessible comet has entered the scene.

Comet C/2015 ER61 (PANSTARRS) recently experienced an outburst, and is now a binocular object in the magnitude 6.x range. Here's a Bob King online article about it at S&T.

I observed it with 16x70 binoculars this morning, April 5, from my front yard (8 miles from center-city Philadelphia) around 5:30 am EDT, shortly before the start of nautical twilight at 5:37 am. It was easy to see and seemed a bit brighter than nearby C/2017 E4 (Lovejoy).

This Comet PANSTARRS is now in Aquarius, just above the "bikini-bottom" stick figure of Capricornus, not far from the Saturn Nebula and M73.

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