The hunt for Comet VZ 13

The hunt for Comet VZ 13

Postby Paul D » Fri Jul 06, 2007 11:59 pm

After several nights of wanting to hunt this comet and convincing myself that with the moon and lack of good seeing that I would not be able to find this comet I decided to give it a go. All day long I watched the weather and planned that after 22:00 I would head out and begin my search. At about 16:00 a round of thunderstorms moved through my area and I was sure that they would not clear out on time for me to try for this comet. I took a bit of a nap planning on making the most of the night and being able to observe at any hour that the clouds decided to move out without feeling tired.

With the knowledge of my last comet E2 Lovejoy still fresh in my mind at mag 10.5 I decided to be extra prepared for this comet at mag 10.3. E2 Lovejoy was one of my faintest comets on record and it was quite a hunt to find it. So using a number of programs I printed up about 15 star charts and had them ready for the nights hunt.

21:45 I head outside and setup, fortunately the air temp and my basement temp were a few degrees apart so I did not need cool down time. Temp was in the low 60's with a slight bit of humidity. Skies were generally clear with some clouds about. As I was setting up I noticed that the sky, trees, and grass were loaded with literally hundreds of fireflies and glow worms. More than I have seen in a very long time. It was like Christmas in summer in my backyard with all the twinkling lights.

22:05 Star charts laid about my observing table I orient myself with the charts and the sky and find approximately where C\2006 VZ 13 is suppose to be which actually wasn't far from the Cats Eye Nebula. NGC 6543. Looking in my finder scope placing the cross hairs at about where I believed the comet was I looked into the eyepiece and there it was. A rather bright fuzzy snowball right where it was suppose to be. I thought to myself this was way to easy compared to what I went through for E2 Lovejoy. C\2006 VZ 13 appeared rather large with no distinctive core but what appeared to me to have a some what fan shaped tail. I hit the comet with several filters, Deepsky, UHC, Swan and OIII but none did anything to enhance the comet and if anything degraded my view.

22:23 While in the area I decided to observe NGC 6543, the Cats Eye Nebula. Here is an object that I have observed in many scopes but never observed it in my own scope. It was an easy hop from the comet to the Cats Eye. Planetary nebulas are one of my favorite objects, very much like comets they are always very different from each other. They take on a personality of their own which I think reflects how individual that stars are in their lives and deaths.

22:44 One last object I wanted to shoot for was a little obscure galaxy that was appearing on most of my star charts for the comet. Listed as NGC 6503 and mag 10.4 I gave it a shot not expecting much again. But again I was wrong. This galaxy was an easy find and had a nice oblong oval shape to it. Visually its surface brightness is about the same through the whole galaxy with no distinctive core. At about this time I am dealing with scattered clouds and larger clouds starting to move in so happy with the fact that I nailed 3 new targets I packed it in for the night at 23:13.

Some thoughts to ponder, first I need to remember that no matter what the programs say I should hunt comets without paying to much attention to the magnitude that is listed. This can make for a frustrating hunt. Also even with the threat of a moon looming if their is an object I want to hunt it never hurts to try. What is the worst that can happen? I end up observing the moon and planets? Anytime observing is better than not observing at all.
Paul...

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Postby ASSNE Prime » Sat Jul 07, 2007 12:07 am

Nice work Paul, good get!
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Postby Rotorhead » Sat Jul 07, 2007 3:24 pm

Excellent, Paul, and of course I am envious. With between three and seven grandkids running around the house on any given day this week, I am just a tad tired for a comet hunt, but things will return to normal (i.e. quiet days and cloudy nights :? ) by Monday. We'll see what happens then.

Nice write-up, by the way.
Bob M
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Postby Mark G » Sat Jul 07, 2007 4:18 pm

Good job Paul. 8)
Clear skies,

Mark
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Postby WCGucfa » Sat Jul 07, 2007 7:01 pm

Great report Paul!

Congrats on getting VZ 13. It looks like this is one that isn't going to slip through our fingers (eyepieces?). I can sense your love for the comet hunt, just like mine.
Wouldn't it be nice to be hunting for a comet with our name on it?

Maybe I'll try for a look at VZ again now that we've got a dark sky. I am feeling lazy though.

Thanks for posting your adventure!

Bill
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Postby Pete » Sat Jul 07, 2007 8:02 pm

Thanks for the fun posting Paul. I wasn't aware of this one but will certainly take a shot at it. Guide 8 says its now 10.1 mag and about 20 degrees S of Polaris. We're pretty close to the edge of the cloud, and it seems to be drifting N. Maybe around 10 it'll clear?
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Postby ASSNE Prime » Sat Jul 07, 2007 8:11 pm

the clearing trend continues here, I'll probably start moving things outside in a half hour or so.

20 degrees South of Polaris? Would that be the same as 20 towards zenith?
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Postby Pete » Sat Jul 07, 2007 8:17 pm

I'll be out myself. If I weren't so beat I'd drive over and join you.
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Postby ASSNE Prime » Sat Jul 07, 2007 8:22 pm

Its been a long day here too, I'll be struggling to stay up but it seems tonight will be a repeat of last night which wasn't bad...
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Observing log of 7-07-07

Postby Pete » Sat Jul 07, 2007 11:29 pm

70707 observing log

George is trying out his Astro-Cannon tonight and I plan on joining him a bit later. But first we’re waiting for the sky to clear. Around 22:15 the sky clears completely – the seeing’s a bit wobbly but transparency is around 8 or 9 out of 10.

I assume that George hasn’t called because of the hour, but I’m sure that he’s out. Before driving over to Warren I want to take advantage of sky conditions and view Paul’s comet. Opening the observatory and powering up the parked 14â€
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Postby Mark G » Sun Jul 08, 2007 9:54 am

I'm glad you got out to observe guys. Good job finding the comet Pete. 8)
Clear skies,

Mark
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