Shopping cart
is empty

Posts Tagged 'comet'

C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE): A new comet in the spotlight?

July 10 2020, Marcus Schenk

A star on the celestial stage? Or quietly disappearing through the stage door? Another promising comet is currently travelling through the solar system. But what kind of performance can we expect from C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE)? Predictions are creating suspense …

Komet F3 NEOWISE

Comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE)

It all kicked off in spring with the Y4 ATLAS comet: There were already rumours that it could be the Great Comet of 2020 as it was following a similar trajectory to the Great Comet of 1844. This reached a magnitude of -1 back in its day. In reality, comet Y4 ATLAS put on a good show until it suddenly disintegrated. Now its debris is continuing to travel through the solar system but the great experience failed to materialise. We were also able to see comet C/2017 C2 (Panstarrs) periodically but this also failed to meet expectations.

The wonderful new appearance of a bright comet – C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE)

But the Universe is always full of surprises: The new comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) was discovered as a faint magnitude +17 firefly on 27 March by the NEOWISE Space Telescope. The comet talent scouts amongst the scientists are now predicting it will have a bright future. Whispered rumours say it could reach a magnitude of +0.6. What? No. Yes! But keep your voice down.

Where is the comet now and when can I observe it?

Pay attention, the most important information is coming up.
Comet NEOWISE is currently located in the southern sky but it is slowly moving into the northern sky and is climbing higher each day. From 15 July, you will be able to marvel at it in the evening sky (from 22:30) at 15 degrees above the north-western horizon. Unfortunately, its position close to the Sun means that you cannot see it all night long. In the following days it will traverse the Lynx constellation (which is rather faint) on its way to the Great Bear’s front paw. You only have a small window of time after twilight – but it’s worth it.

Telescope, binoculars or the naked eye?

If the experts are right, NEOWISE will reach a magnitude of +0.6 on 5 July during its perihelion. But it is also supposed to glow with an impressive magnitude +2 on 15 July . This would mean it was a comet for your telescope, any binoculars you can envision – and even for the naked eye.

Of course, its journey does not end mid-July: over the course of the month it wanders further along the Great Bear’s paw and reaches the amazing Coma Berenices (Berenice’s Hair) on 1 August. During this time, it leaves its magnitude behind, dimming to magnitude +3 by 20/07 and to magnitude 5.5 by 1 August. But even then it will be an attractive object. Partly because it will then be somewhat darker and the comet could gain more than 10 degrees of additional altitude.

Will we be able to finally break out of the vicious circle of faint comets? We will see. Have fun observing.

You can download a PDF of the star chart here: C:2020 F3 NEOWISE star chart.

C/2019 Y4 ATLAS: A bright comet for the naked eye?

March 27 2020, Marcus Schenk

A yawning emptiness. No visitors.

For years, there has not been much going on in the vast expanses of the solar systems, just the planets continued their orbits around the sun.

However, the time for waiting has now passed.

We are being visited by a bright comet which could become a real highlight in April and May – maybe even for the naked eye.

It has the wonderful name of C/2019 Y4 ATLAS. Even now, it can be clearly seen with the telescope. During these times of corona, where we have to stay at home and go without social contact, this makes a welcome change. Keep your telescope at the ready because this could be really exciting!

Komet Y4 ATLAS

The C/2019 Y4 ATLAS comet, with its green coma, near the M81 and M82 galaxies on the 19th/20th March 2020. Photographed using a Canon 600Da – Canon EF 200mm f2.8 L – @f3.5 (step-down-ring as a front aperture), 76 x 2min -> 2h32min – ISO800, Vixen GP-DX – MGEN II. Editing and processing in DeepSkyStacker and Photoshop. Image author: Johannes Hildebrandt

The major comet of 2020?

Hawaii is home to the Asteroid Terrestrial impact Last Alert System, abbreviated to ATLAS. It scans the sky for near-earth objects, which could be of danger to the earth, and is designed to predict a possible impact. However, on the 28th December 2019, the robot-supported system discovered this comet on its way through our solar system. The astronomers observed that it is following a very similar orbit to that of the Great Comet of 1844 which, at that time, achieved a brightness of -1 mag. There has even been speculation that Y4 ATLAS might possibly be a fragment of the then tail-star and could achieve a similar brightness – this fact alone makes following the path of this comet exciting.

Can we expect to see something similar from the C/2019 Y4 ATLAS?

Strong increase in brightness until May

What is certain is that its brightness is rapidly increasing. At the time of its discovery in December, it was still unreachable at 19 mag. In the interim, however, it has been able to increase its brightness to about eight magnitudes. Overall, this is an increase of 25,000 times! However, it will get really interesting from now until the end of May, because it is continuously getting brighter – in fact, it has already exceeded the original expectations in this respect.

It is now entering our region from the outer planets. On the 24th May, it will race past the earth at a distance of 117 million kilometres away and, on the 31st May, it will reach its closest point to the sun – and this despite being within Mercury’s orbit. According to the forecasts, it may reach a brightness of 2 mag – this would not just make it visible with all types of binoculars, but also with the naked eye!

Really good for us, as inhabitants of the northern hemisphere, is the fact that the comet is almost ideally positioned.

We have already observed it…

During the last few days, some members of our team have already been able to observe the comet. I, too, used last weekend for observation. I was able to identify it immediately using my 12“ Taurus Dobson telescope  The diffuse spot stood out clearly from the surrounding stars. The coma appeared uniformly round with a brighter core area. At the edge of a small-town sky, and after observation with my SWA 32mm eyepiece I used a Nagler 11mm with an approx. 140-times magnification. The comet thereby gained even more contrast and stood out even better from the background of the sky. A fantastic experience! However, the comet could also be seen with the 20+40×100 Nightstar large binoculars.

Zeichnung von Komet C/2019 Y4 ATLAS

An image of the C/2019 Y4 ATLAS on the 22nd March 2020 which reflects the visual impression of the 12″ Dobson telescope. Marcus Schenk.

Where can you find the C/2019 Y4 ATLAS comet?

Not at the bottom of the horizon, but high up and circumpolar. This is a dream position for an observer! Our vagabond is currently travelling through the Great Bear which is luckily now high in the sky in spring – this means that you have a good opportunity to observe it using your telescope. If you are planning to acquire a telescope first, then now would be a good time.

In the months of April and May, the comet will be moving through the giraffe constellation and heading for Perseus. It will become significantly brighter but, with time, it will lose altitude. At this time, a rather dark place and a few clouds on the horizon become even more important. In these times of corona and strict curfews, I was happy to be able to observe the comet from my garden at its still high altitude.

But, how can one find the comet now?

You can find an up-to-date search map on skyhound.com, for example.

Or, there is an up-to-date map for the respective day at Theskylive.

Would you like to get an even better view of the comet? The Lumicon Comet Filter can help you to see both the coma and a possible gas-tail contrast-enhanced.

Will we be able to see the comet with the naked eye? Well, despite all the calculations and predictions, this is written in the stars. Let us hope for the best! In the meantime, why not enjoy the comet with your telescope or binoculars. After all, who knows how many years we will have to wait again for such a bright comet?

If you are looking for a telescope, accessories or binoculars, we are here for you (despite the intensified corona crisis in Bavaria) and can be reached by phone and email. Furthermore, our courageous colleagues from the shipping department are holding the fort and will immediately despatch your orders.

Comet 46P/Wirtanen: How to See the Christmas Comet

December 5 2018, Marcus Schenk

After quite a while, we are finally going to get another visitor…. from SPACE!  The comet 46P/Wirtanen will approach Earth, becoming brighter and brighter, and will be visible to the naked eye.  But, a look through binoculars or telescope truly allows you to take in the comet’s beauty.  The best time to see the comet is between the beginning of December and the 25th of December.

 

This photo was taken with a Celestron Teleskop Astrograph S 203/400 RASA 800 OTA.  © Michael Jäger. Thanks to Celestron, who made the photo available to us.

A Comet with the Naked Eye?

46P/Wirtanen is a short-period comet which takes 5.5 years to come back around for another visit.  This December, however, is a special visit, since the comet will appear especially bright in the night sky.  If all goes as planned, Wirtanen’s brightness could reach the 3rd class and be easily visible to the naked eye, or better yet with a pair of binos.

 

If you haven’t yet seen a comet, then now is the right time!  A bright comet is one of the most enjoyable experiences in Astronomy.

 

Why will the comet be 160,000 times brighter?

So, what is so special about it? Only every few years, we have the pleasure of seeing a comet with the naked eye.  The last occurrence was 2014/15, when comet Lovejoy (C/2014 Q2) was visible to the naked eye for a short while at the end of the year.

Wirtanen has always been a weak comet.  But this year, we get a nice year-end present: excellent positioning.  As a result of a course correction, after a close encounter with the gas giant Jupiter, the comet’s orbit around the sun is now significantly closer to our star.  At the same time, the Earth is much closer to the comet’s orbit, making it appear brighter.  As a comparison: when discovered, 46P/Wirtanen was at a brightness of 16 mag.  When it passes by Earth, it will appear 160,000 times bright at 3 mag.

When and where can we see it?

Wirtanen will be visible in the evening sky throughout December.  On the 12th of December, it will reach its closest position to the Sun and on the 16th its closest position to the Earth at only 11 million km, roughly 30 times the distance from the Earth to the Moon.  Exactly at the point, in the evening of the 16th, the comet will reach its brightest point from Earth’s perspective, the so called perigee between the Pleiades and the Hyades.

The biggest obstacle will be the Moon spoiling the party and obscuring our view of the night sky and Wirtanen.  In the early morning hours, after the Moon sets, you will be able to catch a bit of the comet before it disappears below the horizon.

 

Find yourself a dark place

But wait, didn’t we say that the comet should be visible to the unaided eye?  Stars of a similar magnitude will also be visible, even when the Moon is bright in the sky.  Yes, but the magnitude of the comet is spread across a surface – the comet’s coma of roughly 0.5°.  As a comparison: that means the entire diameter of the Moon.  To get the best view, you should try to find a dark sport, away from man-made light, and wait until the Moon is out of the way.

Have a look first right after dusk.  At the beginning of December, the comet will hug the horizon, but climb higher and higher in the sky with each day.  On the 10th of December, it will arrive at the head of the Cetus or whale constellation and makes its way to Taurus.

From the 24th onward, you will be able to see the comet before the Moon rises in the sky. 46P/Wirtanen will then be found close to the star Capella in the constellation Auriga.  The early evening hours will give you the best chance of seeing it.  In the following days, the Moon will rise later and lunar-free periods will grow longer.

Better yet, get yourself some binoculars or a telescope

With binos or a telescope, the comet will appear much more impressive.  Take the time to check out the large green coma and if you have a telescope, even the little tail.  By the way: an excellent thing to have on hand is a pair of Omegon Wide-field Binoculars.

Take the chance now and check out, what some are calling “the Christmas Comet”.  Clear skies and have fun!

13.07.2020
We ship worldwide
Currency
Service
Advice
Contact
Universe2Go