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: Heavy metal frost? A new look at a Venusian mystery

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

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 ...

ESA's bug-eyed telescope to spot risky asteroids

Sep 11, 2014

Spotting Earth-threatening asteroids is tough partly because the sky is so big. But insects offer an answer, since they figured out long ago how to look in many directions at once.

Recommended for you

Heavy metal frost? A new look at a Venusian mystery

18 hours ago

Venus is hiding something beneath its brilliant shroud of clouds: a first order mystery about the planet that researchers may be a little closer to solving because of a new re-analysis of twenty-year-old ...

Hot explosions on the cool sun

Oct 20, 2014

(Phys.org) —The Sun is more spirited than previously thought. Apart from the solar eruptions, huge bursts of particles and radiation from the outer atmosphere of our star, also the cooler layer right below ...

Europe secures new generation of weather satellites

Oct 20, 2014

Contracts were signed today to build three pairs of MetOp Second Generation satellites, ensuring the continuity of essential information for global weather forecasting and climate monitoring for decades to ...

User comments : 0