Trying to glimpse Comet Holmes

Map of Comet Holmes Dec 20

After days of precipitation, we have a lovely clear evening. The temperature is hovering just above freezing. There is a brilliant moon near Comet Holmes in the sky. Shortly after 7 PM PST I went out to see the comet. Nothing. So, I took the time to become dark-adapted. Now 7:31 PM, and I have seen the comet. I used some software to make my computer screen dimmed red, and kept my dark adaption. On the computer I checked the exact position of the comet. Outside again, I used a tree so I could stand it its shadow (moonlight). On a line from Mirfak to Kappa Perseus, the comet was a vague faint cloud in the bluish (not black) sky, and at right angles “above” that line. I could see HIP13965 and HIP13713 (6th mag stars). The comet is at the tip of a long isosceles triangle formed with those faint stars. Actually, it fills lots of the space between those 2 stars and Kappa. It helps that the binoculars are hand-held. The contrast between the comet and the sky is so low that the comet is best seen because it is ‘moving’ in the field as a result of my unsteady hands. The sky map (above) looks much better if you right-click and open it full-size.

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