Monday, March 11, 2013

Comet Pannstars C/2011 L4

I took the kids out, and went with a friend and his kids, to see Comet Pannstars C/2011 L4, at my usual 10-miles-out-of-town observing site. Well, not quite the usual one, but a little ways from it where we had views almost down to the horizon to the west. It was hard to find in the bright sunset sky, but eventually the sky got a bit dark enough to see the Pleiades, and then I could just go straight down from them with binoculars (while the Pleiades were much higher than the comet, the azimuth was within about a degree). And there it was. Lovely tail streaking away from the sun. Looked great in my 15x70s, and pretty good in my 8". Naked-eye, I could see a fuzzy dot, and maybe a hint of a tail.

We also had a nice view of the Orion Nebula, the Double Cluster, and that big open cluster in Canis Major, and some naked-eye cluster which resolved in my 7x35 binoculars I didn't get around to identifying. But then it was time to get the kids home to bed.

The Seventh Sister

I am embarrassed that I had been telling people at public star parties that it's not known why we can only see six stars in the Pleiades naked eye, whereas the ancients talked of Seven Sisters. But it was just a matter of looking harder, from a suburb town, and then I saw the seventh.