February 2008 Star Maps and Comet Holmes

Star Map, Northern Hemisphere, 2008 February at 9 PM Track of Comet Holmes for 2008 February

The map on the left will work for 9 PM, mid-latitudes in the northern hemisphere, during the month of February. Click for full-size image. (It is actually set for the night of February 23 and the latitude of Bowen Island.) The map on the right shows the track of Comet Holmes. It begins on February 1. There are ticks for the position on Feb. 11, Feb. 21, and March 2. The track ends on March 5. If you have a telescope, and you would prefer some R.A. and Dec. data, there is an ephemeris posted here by the Institute of Astronomy – U. of Cambridge.

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8 Responses to “February 2008 Star Maps and Comet Holmes”

  1. 1 Demetrio February 7, 2008 at 8:19 pm

    well today i saw a great huge white ball with white tail following, around 2 to 2:30PM (MTN) i watched it for about 6-8 minutes. and then vanished, it was an amazing sighting, it was moving pretty fast and curved away…

  2. 2 Robert February 7, 2008 at 10:03 pm

    Demetrio, that is an interesting observation! I have no idea what you saw.

  3. 3 Deborah February 21, 2008 at 8:34 am

    Last night (Feb. 21, 2008) at around 11.00pm pacific time I saw a star-like object in the sky but I noticed it was larger than the other stars and was shinning more brightly, so I got my binoculars and I could see kind of a ball of fire with a blue tail. it was pretty big but after a while it was just a dot.

  4. 4 Robert February 21, 2008 at 9:15 am

    Deborah, since you had time to fetch binoculars, whatever you saw lasted for a fairly long time. It is hard to say, but from your description, I’d guess that its origin was probably terrestrial, and not astronomical. Fascinating observation! At 11 PM it would still be Feb 20. I hope you had clear skies earlier to see the lunar eclipse.

  5. 5 Martha Sousa April 24, 2008 at 1:12 pm

    April 22, 2008 about 8:45 PM I saw a big object with a long tail going through the sky. I was in Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, New Mexico, USA. It was traveling from southish to northish in the western sky and burned for around 7-8 long seconds! My e-mail is sousaalley@aol.com if anyone has a clue as to what I saw, I’m an Art teacher and don’t know much about the sky action, so I’d love to know!

  6. 6 Robert April 24, 2008 at 6:53 pm

    Hi Martha, your description suggests that you probably saw a spectacular meteor. When the event is that bright it is often called a fireball. If that is what you observed, it was a pebble that has been drifting around the Sun since the dawn of the solar system. As you watched it finally encountered the Earth. You saw it reach a high temperature as it roared into the atmosphere. This is the final stage of the growth of the Earth as it sweeps up the last bits of material in this region of the solar system. It is still increasing its weight by several tons each day as a result of meteors falling into the atmosphere. At the heart of most meteors is a tiny grain of material, so the fiery trip through the atmosphere is quite faint. On any clear, dark, night a single observer should be able to see, on average, 7 meteors. The trick is to watch for the very faint ones. And don’t blink too often.

  7. 7 TMPrice June 9, 2008 at 10:52 am

    Last night June 8th 2008,around 3:30am my fiancee and I were outside looking at the sky because the stars were so beautiful. The Milky Way was very visible well at least that was what we thought it was. Then we noticed a light looked just like a star traveling very slowly along the Milky Way. It had no blinking lights, looked just like a star but was moving, sometimes it got very dim and other times it got very bright. The sky was perfectly clear all stars very visible absolutely no clouds. We watch it for about an hour or more go back and forth sometimes dissapearing the would reappear retraveling the same path. Someone suggested it was a satellite, is this possible? On 3 seperate occassions another light form that looked alot like the mist light of a comet, glided across its path in 3 different locations. In the middle of those 2 lights we also saw a shooting star and I am sure that it was I know what they look like, but What were then other 2 lights. Planes do not travel like that and have blinking lights and comets to not come back and forth either, Hummm? This was all very exciting we are going to try to see whats out tonight! I am by no means an astronomer, but I want a telescope.

  8. 8 Robert June 9, 2008 at 4:20 pm

    Hi TMPrice, from your description, I have no idea what you saw. I’m delighted that you’d like to buy a telescope. The world of ‘scopes is complicated, and, just so you have the chance to learn which will give you the most pleasure, I suggest that begin with 3 simpler purchases:

    1. a copy of a great book called, NightWatch by Terry Dickinson. With it you will really learn ALL about the night sky and the astronomy to make it understandable. And there is lots about telescope too.

    2. Subscribe to one of the wonderful astronomy magazines that are available. Consider ASTRONOMY by Kalmbash Publishing. Here you will see what is new in astronomy, what other observers are doing, and read reviews of new gear. If you are in Canada, or even if you are not, there is an excellent magazine called SkyNews. BTW, SkyNews comes as part of a membership in the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC). Membership in the RASC also includes ‘The Observers Handbook.’ Next year you will want a copy of the Handbook, even if you are not Canadian.

    3. Purchase a fairly good pair of binoculars. You want to have large front lenses to collect lots of light, balanced with the correct power. I think that the best value I can suggest is the Ultima DX SkyMaster 8×56 by Celestron. Be sure to buy them with the tripod adapter, and plan to use them with a tripod. Even if you don’t continue with astronomy, you will have a very useful pair of binoculars.

    Over the next few months you can enjoy learning what is in the sky, and observing most of it. By then you will know enough to buy the telescope that will serve you best.

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