Comet Holmes – Star Maps – March 2008

Star Map, Northern Hemisphere, 2008 April 1 at 8 PM Track of Comet Holmes for 2008 March and part of April

Since I have a request for yet another set of star maps for finding Comet Holmes, here they are. Last night it was clear, and even with binoculars, I could not see it. The first map will work well for locating stars and planets in the evening sky for the next month or so. It is actually for 8 PM local time on April 1. The second map shows the path of Comet Holmes from March 4 to April 8. April 8 is the last day that Holmes will be in Perseus. On the 9th it crosses the border into Auriga. If you do observe it, please drop me a note. If you have not written to me before, please put the words “Comet Holmes” as part of your email subject. I’d be interested to know if you can take a picture of it.

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27 Responses to “Comet Holmes – Star Maps – March 2008”


  1. 1 JMMT March 13, 2008 at 9:35 am

    i saw something like a comet (and alerted my friends via SMS, who in turn alerted their friends, one even told her students to view it in the middle of the exam she was giving them…) around 1930H GMT+8 (los baños, laguna, philippines) located somewhere in Perseus but nearer to Aries… but it faded in about 30-40 minutes….

    i’m not sure if its really comet 17p Holmes on its supposedly 3rd minor outburst… (http://cosmos4u.blogspot.com/2008/03/another-minor-outburst-of-comet-holmes.html)

    but it could not be that Atlas V rocket from the satellite launch in California (0300H PDT, GMT-8) or could it be? the “comet” appeared on the west sky… just about the size of my thumb, arms length away…. while California is was east of the Philippines… hmmm…

    but it really looked like a comet… it was stationary, and had a head and tail… looked more like an angel (pardon me for my description, hehe) with its 2 wings spread up high, the comet nucleus would be on the feet of the “angel” figure…. it was quote hazy (it was somewhere in the direction of manila… pollution made it look hazy…)

    anyway, i would like to know/confirm if it really was a comet… and if it was/or wasn’t, any other information regarding the sighting…. (like comet name, or what object?)

    sincerely yours… 🙂

  2. 2 Robert March 13, 2008 at 9:49 pm

    @jmmt, Thanks for that fascinating observation. Somehow the link you provided was not active, but it was interesting, so I think this is the blog story you referenced: Another (minor) outburst of comet Holmes – in progress right now? I don’t think you were actually seeing Comet Holmes. It is very faint. Also the head of the comet is so large that I doubt that it could be visible to the unaided eye, and then fade in only 30 – 40 minutes. I wonder if any other readers here saw what you observed. Did any of those you alerted see it as well?

  3. 3 Jamie March 15, 2008 at 12:39 am

    I just witnessed what looked like a comet in they sky in Brisbane Australia. It was about 6.15pm… not dark yet at all. It had a tail, and others in the traffic I was in saw it to. I drove home which only took a few minutes and tried to continue to see it but it was gone? It was quite bright, but the tail was not that big. Have you got any ideas on what it may have been?

  4. 4 Robert March 15, 2008 at 8:56 am

    @ Jamie, Thanks for that observation. I cannot figure out what you saw. When pictures of comets appear in publications and online, they seldom look the way they do to an observer. This is because images are often acquired with a camera and a telescope. Comet pictures look big and bright. Of the few comets that I have observed directly (including Comet Halley — and I did see it from Brisbane that year) in my life, all were faint and it helped to look through binoculars or a telescope. Once in a while a comet does appear that is really big and bright in the sky, but these are so rare that the event is headline news. All of this is to say that whatever you saw from Brisbane at 6:15pm, before it was dark, was not likely a comet. Since it was gone when you looked from home a few moments later, I suspect that whatever you observed was an atmospheric phenomenon — in other words, it was probably terrestrial, and not likely astronomical. When I check the astronomy for Brisbane, I see that the Sun sets there about 6:03 PM, so by 6:15, if the sky were clear, you probably saw the Moon over in the north-northwest. High overhead, the first stars would just be appearing: Canopus in the high in the South, and Sirius, high in the northeast.

  5. 5 Jamie March 15, 2008 at 7:38 pm

    Thank you.. there was no moon or stars it was still light… it had a tail, only a small one, my daughter described it to be like when you take a photo and there is sometimes a mark like light on the picture, almost a burnt orange colour… that is what it was like.. and it was moving, and the tail of it sort of was shaking. Hope that is some help.

  6. 7 Carla March 16, 2008 at 6:07 am

    My husband, son, and I were on a vacation trip to Boracay Island, Philippines. We had just ordered dinner at a restaurant along the beach when I saw something glowing in the sky – that was about 7:30PM on Wednesday, March 13 2008. It was a clear night and the moon (half moon) and stars were clearly visible. I called my husband to look at what I thought was a shooting star…but then i figured, it was too big to be a star. Then people started running toward the beach taking videos and shouting “comet”. The description is similar to JMMT’s description – size of a thumb, arms length away. It had a head and a tail, except that the tail wasn’t long, but wide…like how one would draw an airwave (with ripples). The ‘comet’ made a trail about 2 inches long (from where i was standing), and seemed to have burned off. The sighting lasted for only about 5-7 minutes.
    Can anyone validate, if that was indeed a “comet” sighting??

    Thanks. BTW, i took a picture, but I guess it was too far and dark to come out clearly.

  7. 8 Robert March 16, 2008 at 6:36 am

    @Jamie, thanks for the link. It certainly caught the attention of people who pay attention to what is happening in the sky! It was interesting to read those other accounts of the event.

  8. 9 Robert March 16, 2008 at 7:44 am

    @Carla, I hope some other folks will add their description of that event. Maybe someone has a picture.

  9. 10 JMMT March 16, 2008 at 6:36 pm

    oh! i didn’t update myself with this webpage… hmmm, i think carla and I saw the same thing… only that i’m not really sure how long it lasted… i do think it was more than 20 minutes…. since i recall reaching home in time for dinner and even telling my mother and siblings to look outside and see the ‘comet’…. but it did fade out… my colleagues as well as a lot of our students also saw it… hmmm…

    but the one sighted in brisbane is different, since what we saw here in the philippines happened on March 13, the brisbane sighting was on March 15…

  10. 11 David March 17, 2008 at 5:46 am

    My wife and I observed exactly the same vista as Carly did. We too were having dinner at a restaurant on the beach on Boracay Island at the same time as Carla’s family (Aria)?
    I took some pictures, two of which are quite reasonable given the conditions (several “Happy Hour” beers)!
    Let me have an email address or a link and I’ll be happy to send or post them. I’m very interested to know exactly what comet or event it actually was.
    Cheers, David

  11. 12 Robert March 17, 2008 at 6:54 am

    @JMMT & @Carla, when trying to identify a sighting in the sky, it is always helpful to have more than one observation. If, for instance, the event was in the atmosphere (as I suspect), and not far away in space, it should be possible to determine where the event took place. Begin with finding out where each of you were when you saw it (with Google maps it is easy to obtain your coordinates), and then use local landmarks to learn exactly what direction you were facing. Your lines-of-sight should intersect at the object. Since this blog records your email addresses, if either of you is interested in doing this, mention it here and I can coordinate.

    I agree, the observations in Brisbane were not likely the same phenomenon as the event in the Philippines.

  12. 13 Robert March 17, 2008 at 7:30 am

    @David, Thanks for your offer to share pictures. Please see a private email that I have just sent to you.

  13. 14 David March 18, 2008 at 3:41 am

    Hope that the pictures eventually arrive! Just looked at Google maps and the detail is just not available. Checked Google Earth and the position I was standing at can be found there it was just in front of D’Mall (D Mall) on the beach. The co-ordinates are about 11 Deg. 57 Min 34 Sec N and 121 Deg 55 min 34 sec E. To best describe the direction I was looking when I took these photos is to say that it was about halfway between where the sun set below the horizon (on my left) and the beach front to my right. I hesitate to guess the elevation, but over a period of about 15 to 20 minutes, the Comet moved quite a bit to my right and was then too dim to photograph. Hope this meagre description helps! Cheers, David

  14. 15 JMMT March 18, 2008 at 4:29 am

    ^^ yes yes, it moved to the right, a bit…. i do recall that… and something that i forgot to mention… me, my brother, and my mom noticed something like faint sparks/twinkling lights where the nucleus should have been… hmmm… anyway, i’m located in Los Baños, Laguna, 121°13’32″E, 14°10’44″N, altitude maybe about 40-60 m above sea level, i checked my Stellarium to determine the direction where i spotted the ‘comet’, around 27° N of W. Hope that helps

  15. 16 Carla March 22, 2008 at 4:26 am

    David,

    Yes, I was at the Aria Restaurant when the comet became visible. I remember lots of folks running to the beach in amazement to view the comet. I was actually a bit nervous, hoping it didn’t mean extinction (haha).

    It didn’t seem to have lasted more than 10 minutes. I was sitting in one of the mats closer to the beach and facing the sunset. As it got dark, the comet became clearly visible. From my point of view, the comet moved to the left, leaving a rippled trail onto its right. I took a few pictures, but after downloading them onto my computer, the one taken without the use of a flash looked pitch black with a small faint white smudge-like figure. The other one with the flash just picked up the tiny particles in the air.

    Carla

  16. 17 Carla March 22, 2008 at 4:44 am

    correction on my last post –

    from my point of view, the comet moved to the RIGHT, leaving a rippled trail to its LEFT.

    David – thanks for posting the pictures. My camera wasn’t able to produce a clear picture.

    So, can anyone verify what comet it was?

  17. 18 ronnie April 2, 2008 at 12:10 am

    No idea if it’s real or not but I swear I’m seeing a comet to the north of me (me being page arizona) It’s barely visible to the naked eye, I just have good eyes and a lot of luck I guess. Googled it to confirm whether or not I’m just imagining things and this site was at the top of the list. Any input, confirmations, or extra info would be welcome. I’m not an astronomer, just a stargazer so please speak english. I’m quite sure it’s not within the atmosphere as it seemed to move with the turn of the planet after a few minutes observation as any good celestial body should.

    Thanks!

    -Ronnie

  18. 19 Robert April 2, 2008 at 5:46 am

    Ronnie, your description seems to describe one of many objects in the night sky that are neither stars or planets. To the unaided eye, or in a small telescope they look like faint, small, misty patches of light. The light is produced by one of a number of astronomical objects: galaxies, nebulae (glowing interstellar gas), or clusters of stars. The astronomer, Charles Messier (1730 to 1817), was also interested in finding comets, and he kept observing these objects only to realize they were not comets. So he made a catalog of all of them that he could find so that whenever he thought he was observing a comet he would check his catalog. Today Messier is more famous for his catalog than his comet-hunting. In the map above the little star cluster that is marked by the name, “Pleiades,” and also identified by the number in his catalog, “M45.” The difference between observing a comet and a Messier object is that the Messier object will always be in the same spot among the stars. The comet is moving in the solar system, so its position will change from night to night. Most of these objects can be seen only with a telescope, but there are several that can be spotted with the unaided eye.

  19. 20 ronnie April 2, 2008 at 11:59 pm

    The only reason I thought it was a comet was the presence of a tail. I would not have noticed otherwise. Is there an explanation for this or was I just seeing things?

  20. 21 Robert April 3, 2008 at 6:58 am

    ronnie, I doubt you were ‘seeing things.’ But, I don’t know what you saw. Comets that are visible to the unaided eye are very unusual, so I was looking for some other explanation. Without much more detail about your observation, I cannot identify the object. If it is a Messier object, it will still be there on the next clear dark night. If it was something else, I’d suspect that it was an event in the Earth’s atmosphere.

  21. 22 JAde and kelly May 14, 2008 at 1:09 am

    hello.. this is jade and kelly here.. we have just witnessed something that we are unsure of, something were hoping you could tell us about…

    about 6:45 pm est victoria australia, we were looking at the stars
    and noticed one particular star like object which was considerably larger and brighter than any other star in the sky… it started moving very quickly across the sky.. it was clearly not a plane.. and it definitely wasnt an average star either… it slowly started to fade and disappear…..

    This was actually our second sighting… the night before that it was about 11:45 pm est. and we were outside looking at the stars. when we noticed a very bright star nearly the size of a street light. we took photos and in two different photos one showed that it was green and the other showed it was red. We noticed wen we were looking closely that is was flashing a little bit red at the bottom and green around the top. We went in side.. and at 12:30 pm est. we went back out and it had moved completely. although it wasnt moving when we were looking at it..

    did u noticw this? or has anybody mentioned it to you?
    do u no wat it could be??? we have photos so if u have msn or an email we can send tghem to u .. and maybe u can tell us what u think it is??:) thankkkksss:)

  22. 23 Robert May 14, 2008 at 7:25 am

    @jade and kelly, those were certainly interesting observations. If you have pictures, please post them at a site such as Flickr or webshots and then reply here with the url of the images so we can see them. I can turn urls into active links. I don’t know what caused the sighting at 6:45. My best guess for the object you saw at 11:45 PM was Jupiter. I’ve sent you a small map of the eastern sky as seen from near you and it shows the position of Jupiter among the stars. It will still be there tonight, and it will be easy to spot. Let us know here if that is the object.

  23. 24 Erika May 22, 2009 at 9:34 am

    Hi Robert,
    You have a map on this blog that we would like to use in a movie. Can you email me so I can send you the image and you can tell me if you own it and or if you know who owns it?
    Thanks,
    Erika

  24. 25 Robert May 22, 2009 at 12:34 pm

    Hi Erika, if you mean the map that is part of this blog post about Comet Holmes, yes, I made that. I will email you as well and you are welcome to write to me. I would be curious to know more about your movie project.


  1. 1 Comet-like object spotted from Boracay Island - Philippines « Salish Sea Trackback on March 19, 2008 at 5:45 pm

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