Monday, December 24, 2018

Comet Wirtanen II

Sandra and I observed Comet Wirtanen last night from our back yard in Hato. There was a about a 15 minute period of clear dark skies after sunset and before the moon rise. The comet was very close to the bright star Capella. As seen from Bonaire, the comet was a teeny bit to the lower right of Capella last night. When I had Capella centered in my 10x50 binoculars, the comet was half way to the edge of the field of view. 

Capella is super helpful in knowing where to look for the comet right now. The comet should be a bit to the lower left of Capella tonight. It looks like a pretty large dim fuzzy spot in the sky. If the sky is dark and clear enough that you can see M38, M36 and M37, also located in the constellation Auriga you'll be able to spot Comet Wirtanen. The surface brightness of the comet was more like that of M38 than the slightly brighter M36, and it covers a much larger area than these Messier objects.

Here is a screen shot from the free software, Stellarium. The red X shows where the comet will be tonight. The red dot shows where it was last night.

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