Catch a Comet - No Telescope Required

Oct 31, 2007
Catch a Comet - No Telescope Required
Sky chart showing location of comet Holmes in late October. Image credit: NASA/JPL

Usually comets are challenging little no-see-um fuzzballs. To see one often requires a dark sky, a good chart or a telescope that can "go-to" the object automatically.

This week there is a newly visible comet in the sky and it can be seen with the unaided eye! Last week, Periodic comet Holmes (17P/Holmes), a very faint comet far from the sun experienced an outburst and brightened a million times in just a few hours. The comet puffed up (it's still expanding), changed color and wowed viewers around the world.

The Astronomy Photo of the day for October 30 (visit antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap071030.html) shows the comet's current apparent size in the sky - compared to Jupiter, which you can also see in the west after sunset.

To see the comet, all you have to do is step outside and look to the Northeast. You should be able to see the "W" that is the constellation Cassiopeia - it's standing on its end. One and a half "fists" away to the right is a bright star in the constellation Perseus.

You probably won't be able to see all the Perseus stars, but the bright one - Mirfak - should be visible. It marks the top of a triangle, which is about the size of your thumb held at arms length away. The triangle's lower left corner is the comet! Use our chart to the right to help find the comet.

The comet will stay with us for a while, so weather permitting, you'll get a look this week or next.

Source: by Veronica McGregor/JPL

Explore further: Burning passion: Chinese rich pay sky-high meteorite prices

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Comet K1 PanSTARRS

21 hours ago

Comet C/2012 K1 PanSTARRS, one of the most dependable comets of 2014, may put on its encore performance over the coming weeks for southern hemisphere observers.

Catching the planets and new views of Mars

Sep 25, 2014

Looking west after sunset on Friday September 26, the thin waxing crescent moon forms a triangle with Mercury and Spica, the brightest star in the constellation of Virgo. You can see how far Mercury has ...

Recommended for you

Is space tourism safe or do civilians risk health effects?

41 minutes ago

Several companies are developing spacecraft designed to take ordinary citizens, not astronauts, on short trips into space. "Space tourism" and short periods of weightlessness appear to be safe for most individuals ...

An unmanned rocket exploded. So what?

3 hours ago

Sputnik was launched more than 50 years ago. Since then we have seen missions launched to Mercury, Mars and to all the planets within the solar system. We have sent a dozen men to the moon and many more to ...

NASA image: Sunrise from the International Space Station

4 hours ago

NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman posted this image of a sunrise, captured from the International Space Station, to social media on Oct. 29, 2014. Wiseman wrote, "Not every day is easy. Yesterday was a tough one. ...

Copernicus operations secured until 2021

4 hours ago

In a landmark agreement for Europe's Copernicus programme, the European Commission and ESA have signed an Agreement of over €3 billion to manage and implement the Copernicus 'space component' between 2014 ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.