Comet Machholz Observing Report


Martin McKenna
  Maghera, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland
Photo Title
  Comet Machholz Observing Report
Time and Date taken
  12th/13th January 2005 2300ut - 0200ut
Equipment used
  Handheld Camera
Capturing device used
  Fuji Finepix E510 3MP Digital Camera
Technical details
  All images taken on Full Auto

16" F/4.5 RL at 57X Coma was very large, green and well condensed. Outer coma is diffuse, elongated to the east and wedge shaped similar to the coma of 2P/Encke. Central condensation has decreased in diameter and has become softer in appearance. False nucleus is a bright, white starlike object with possibly 3 jets glimpsed briefly during moments of steady seeing? False nucleus and CC are not symmetrically placed within the coma but are instead near its western section where the coma is sharp. The eastern section of the coma is large, softer, wedge shaped and connects from the dust tail to the gas tail describing an arc, this is either material in the coma or the curving dust tail seen near edge on from our line of sight..just depends on the sun - comet -earth geometry. Dust 25' long to the SE, broad as it leaves the coma and tapers to a point like a witches hat. Western edge of tail is brighter and sharper than eastern edge. Gas tail 1* long to the NE, tail is straight and as wide as the CC with multiple streamers coming from the coma.

Below are some photos of Martin McKenna and Conor McDonald taken during the observing session.

10X50 Binos Dust tail 1* long and easier to see - possibly curved?? Ion tail 3.5* long again with muliple streamers. A dark irregular structure splits tail in two - possibly 2 bright streamers interacting with solar wind. Inner coma (tear drop shape) has bright streamer running into gas tail similar to a spine in appearance. Comet looks great! with the naked eye Q2, M31 and the double cluster made a lovely naked eye triangle of fuzzies. Moon 2 days after new, avg - poor trans, very good seeing. Mag: 4.0 Dia: 25' D.C: 7

Also had a good comet session this evening but the sky conds went from bad to worse so i had to pack up. As Mark said the waxing cresent moon with earth shine was a lovely sight this evening, i tried my hand at a few images but they where no good. This morning before dawn i was out sweeping the eastern sky however clouds rolled in. The only thing visible in the sky was Jupiter so i guided the 16" to the planet and WOW!!!!!!!! the seeing conds where amazing 10/10 the disk was completely still all morning, i seen incredible detail within the belts and zones and even gilmpsed 2 festoons all at seeing i have seen in a long time, the view just blew me away, i can still see it in my minds eye now! Seen no auroras........


Martin McKenna


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