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PostPosted: Mon Aug 13, 2018 12:47 pm 
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Location: Maple Shade, NJ
Now that whatever is left of disintegrated comet C/2017 S3 (PANSTARRS) is near perihelion and quite unobservable a dozen degrees south of the sun, comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner has taken its place as a very accessible object. Recent magnitude estimates are around 8, or even into the upper 7.x range. It should continue to brighten a bit towards perihelion on September 10.

21P was easy to spot with 15x56 binoculars on the night of August 4-5, 2018, at Batsto, then again with the binos on the morning of August 10 at Carranza. Both locations are in Wharton State Forest, NJ, and in each case, the Milky Way in the Summer Triangle was readily visible, but not billowing. The comet was north of the Cassiopeia stick figure.

I also viewed 21P with my 12.5-inch dob at Carranza on August 10. The scope showed the coma extended to the southwest, perhaps extending into a faint tail. I also thought I could detect a vague greenish color. Movement with respect to a nearby field star was unambiguous over the approximate 45 minutes of scope time.

Here's an image of 21P by Michael J├Ąger, the Austrian master of comet photography, taken about 5 hours before my observation on August 10...

http://spaceweathergallery.com/indiv_upload.php?upload_id=147063

The next week or so provides a nice opportunity to see a decent comet (if the weather would deign to cooperate). The moon sets after midnight starting on Sunday morning, August 19, and just before the start of astronomical twilight on Friday, August 24.

Here's some info on current comets (plus finder charts) at Skyhound...

http://www.cometchasing.skyhound.com/

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 01, 2018 9:13 am 
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Location: Maple Shade, NJ
Bob King now has an online article at S&T about observing 21P in September 2018...

https://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/comet-21p-giacobini-zinner-shines-in-september/

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