Sunday, May 25, 2008

Comet Boattini Update

Sandra and I zoomed to the south end of Bonaire last night and observed Comet Boattini, and a bunch of other fun stuff in the southern skies. It got cloudy and hazy after a while, but it was still worth the drive to get away from the the ambient light of town.

The comet is easily visible in probably most any binoculars, but we still didn't spot it with our naked eye. This picture is a stack of 10 four second exposures, and shows the comet at the upper right of the middle of the picture. There are two "X"s that show roughly where the comet was on Thursday and Friday evenings. The comet is moving from upper left to lower right as one observes it in the western sky. There is a star at the bottom middle of the picture with a "y" by it. Its gamma Pyxis, and it and the star to it's upper left are visible with the naked eye. One of the stars to the left of the lower "x" is also visible with the naked eye.

This was our first night out with our binoculars in really dark skies and we were not disappointed. The area around the Southern Cross and Carina was really really beautiful in both pairs of binoculars. The keyhole nebula wasn't quite as nice as what I saw in Pierre's 22x60 Takahashi binos (probably the coolest thing I've ever seen in the sky other than a total solar eclipse), but the views, especially in the 10x50 Fujinon fmt-sx, were still exquisite. I can't wait for a look at the Sagittarius Milky Way star clouds this summer.

Leo was directly overhead and I could see M65 and M66 in both the 20x80 and the 10x50 binos. M65 looked more like a fuzzy star in the 10x50s. I could also just detect the nearby galaxy 3628 in the 20x80 binos. It was right at the limit of vision, but when I got home and compared what I saw with the binos, to a hi-rez view on the star charts at Cal-Sky dot com, I was spot on.

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