Comet hunt …. Success tonight.

After what feels like an eternity of cloudy weather I got to see comet Holmes.

A bit of clear sky appeared , and the comet was just visible to the unaided eye here (the sky is heavily light polluted where I live).

Without any optical instruments it looks like a star to me – maybe it would be fuzzy in a darker sky.

Using a pair of binoculars at 15x magnification the comet is much like the pictures as seen here , with the exception of the faint green haze outside the brighter disk.

It looked bigger than I expected, and I noticed thet in order to get the most from the view, I had to use “averted vision” that is focusing the view a bit away from the comet. The brighter core is a little elliptic looking and a little offset from the centre of the disk.

If you have a pair of binoculars, you should go out and take a look. The Sky and Telescope link above gives you what you need to find the comet.

This is the third comet I have seen, only Hale-Bopp in April 1997 was bright enough to be clearly seen in the heavily light polluted skies of the western Netherlands, but this unexpected view is much better with a pair of binoculars , or better a telescope using a not too high magnification 20 – 50x should be fine.

Good luck comet hunting.

Comet bursting into the sky.

Two days ago Comet 17P/Holmes was an insignificant piece of ice barely visible in amateur telescopes under dark skies.

Yesterday all that changed . If you have a clear sky, take a look in the constellation Perseus, there you will find an extra “fuzzy star” – visible to the unaided eye. With a visual magnitude og between 2.5 and 3 it should be about as strong as the stars in the “Big Dipper”, “The Plough”, “The big Wagon” or whatever you may call the most well known constellation in the Northern sky. The increase in brightness is about a million times in about 24 hours – quite amazing.

Take a look at for more information – and a star map to find the comet, and Cometography for a bit of history of this comet.

Stop Press: Latest estimates are now magnitude 2 …. even brighter … so the outburst is still in progress.

Here’s hoping for a little clear sky at my place i The Netherlands …

Good luck with comet hunting.