A comet for Christmas anyone??


Link Posted 03/12/2018 - 01:47
Just in case anyone might be interested there could be a chance to photograph a relatively bright comet in UK skies leading up to Christmas, I say relatively bright meaning it could reach naked eye visibility, certainly it should be easily visible in binoculars and within easy reach of standard camera lenses.

This is a very rare opportunity to photograph Comet 46P/Wirtanen at it's closest and brightest so you may want to step outside for a look and some photos.
It reaches it's closest on the 16th Dec 2018 when it will lie between the Pleiades & Hyades star clusters in the constellation Taurus... but will be visible for many days each side of that date as it moves against the starry background as a small turquoise colour ball which may or may not develop a tail.

A DSLR camera with standard lens, fairly high iso and lens fairly wide open should capture it in only a few seconds exposure.
Go a step further and use Pentax O-GPS1 Unit ...or inbuilt functionality of the K1 to extend exposure time some seconds longer.
A small camera tracker like those from Skywatcher or Ioptron would allow longer focal length lenses to be used more successfully but remember the comet is moving so may itself leave a trail.

Here is a couple of finder charts I made on Stellarium using ephemeris from the Minor Planet Centre yesterday to show the comets position over the period in one day steps as it gets higher in the skies coming up from the south.

More details and finder charts here...


Good luck and clear skies if you give this project a go!

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Link Posted 03/12/2018 - 07:58
Thanks Mike for this info, I will definitely be keeping a look out for it weather permitting! 😀


Link Posted 03/12/2018 - 09:07
Yes - thanks also for doing the work on this; IF I remember and am free, will get out to have a look!


Link Posted 03/12/2018 - 09:45
Yes...another thanks for the 'headsup' Mike.

I did read about this over the weekend and was intending weather permitting to have a go, but you've certainly provided more information on its location which is much appreciated.




Link Posted 03/12/2018 - 10:56
That's fantastic, many thanks for the detailed info.
Best regards, John


Link Posted 03/12/2018 - 11:14
It'll be difficult to spot with the naked eye unless you're in an area with low light pollution, and it'll be a rather large (moon sized) but diffuse object.
All the gear with no idea


Link Posted 03/12/2018 - 11:17
Thanks for the info


Link Posted 03/12/2018 - 19:15
Thanks for feedback folks, glad you find the info useful.
Remember the Moon will be waxing ....so the week before and including the 16th December will be darkest, moonlight will be troublesome the following week.

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Link Posted 03/12/2018 - 21:07
Hopefully the weathe plays nice. If it does I shall try and head out and spot it. I now live in an area with little light pollution.
I also let my son know as he and my grandson share a telescope.


Link Posted 04/12/2018 - 20:31
Gwyn, good to hear the lads are interested in astronomy, so many into their Xboxes and Playstations these days.
Here's hoping they both get a chance to see this comet. 🌠

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