Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Comet Holmes continues to grow

Showing lasting power, Comet Holmes is slowly increasing its apparent diameter. Although it is slightly dimmer than it was a couple of weeks ago, its size is almost 1 degree across! This is best viewed through 10 x 50 binoculars as it passes Mirfak and the Alpha Persei Association of stars. Over the next few weeks, it heads towards Algol finally reaching that location on January 21. Keep watching to see if its continues expanding.

Such is our view from Earth...

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Comet Holmes Endures

Surprising Comet Holmes continues to amaze skywatchers. Since becoming an easy naked eye object 2 weeks ago, it has double in diameter. This is particularly strange since Holmes is slowly moving away from both the Earth and the sun. Tonight, the comet lies about 151 million miles from us and 232 million from the sun. This places it past the orbit of the Earth and beyond the orbit of Mars into the region of the solar system called "the asteroid belt." Comets this far from the sun aren't normally seen as a naked eye object here on Earth. By the end of November, it increases its distance to 157 million miles from us and 241 million from the sun.

During the next week, go outside after 7 pm and look in the northeast. Between the bright star Capella, which is close to the horizon, and the "w" of Cassiopeia, which is 2/3 overhead, is Perseus. Look for 3 moderately bright "stars" forming a small triangle. The "star" on the left is not a star at all, but Comet Holmes.

Through household binoculars, the comet is easily seen to be a large round fuzzy patch. Watch nightly to see Holmes creep in front of the distant background stars!

Such is our view from Earth...