The Comet Pojmanski challenge

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Pete
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The Comet Pojmanski challenge

Unread post by Pete » Mon Feb 27, 2006 8:36 am

THE CHALLENGE

At 05:30 this coming morning the sky will be clear and this comet will be 9° to the NE of Venus. It will also be in line with Vega and Altair, and the same distant from Altair as Altair is from Vega.

This comet is reportedly at 6th magnitude now, and should be easily visible in binoculars if it weren’t only 11° above the horizon.

Pojmanski is rising fast and fading slowly. On March 3rd it will be 15° the E of Venus and 21° above the horizon at 05:30, and it will have faded to mag 6.6

So who’s the first ASSNEr to brave the single digit temps and report on Pojmanski?

Good luck.

Pete


PETE’S RESPONSE

Well, the internal alarm clock in my head rang at 5:15 so I popped out of bed and headed to my presellected viewing site (the upstairs bathroom window) wearing robe & slippers. (I may be dedicated, but I’m not crazy - its only 10° out there!) Opening the window & propping the 15X70s on the window sill Venus was still in the trees, and the area where Pojmanski should be found was more tree than sky. I do see a brightish star that may be Dabih, but as far as the comet - it’s a no-go.

Sunrise is at 6:23, but getting up again at 5:40 the sky was already far too bright for comet viewing. Ah well, back to bed. Wonder if anyone else is going to be foolish enough to leave their warm bed this morning?

Pete


PAUL’S RESPONSE

I set up the dob at 04:00 getting prepared for this comet. Temperature reads a balmy 4.2 degrees and there is a slight wind gust from time to time bringing the wind chill to -3 degrees. I also arm myself with a pair of 10x50 binos and head our dressed like an eskimo. I orient myself and while the scope is cooling I look at Jupiter.

4:20am I see Venus rising but well behind some trees in my backyard. With both Aqulia and Venus in my sight I estimate where I will see the comet. At this point my hands are freezing and I head in for a hot cup of tea and sit waiting for about 05:00.

05:00 Dabih and Algedi are both visible slightly above my tree line and of course as luck would have it the comet is sitting behind the tallest pine tree in my yard. The horizon is starting to get bright at this point and I start to wonder about my chances of seeing this comet. I abandon the dob and pack it up while waiting because it sits to low to see the comet above the trees.

05:20 This will be my last chance to see this comet this morning. The horizon is brightening quickly and I have my doubts about seeing the comet. I look into my binos again and see Dabih and Algedi beyond the tree line and forming an irregular triangle is C/2006 A1 Pojmanski. To confirm that I am seeing the comet I fine focus on both Dabih and Algedi separately which I have no trouble bringing into focus but the 3rd object I cannot bring to focus at all with that I concluded that I had indeed found C/2006 A1 Pojmanski.

I would have like to verified my sighting with the dob but because it was so low in the horizon there was just no way I could. But I am convinced that what I saw was the comet. It was in the right spot, it was about the right magnitude and I could not bring it into focus. So if it looks like a comet and acts like a comet then it must be a comet. Finally I am glad during my time outside it decided to warm up to a steamy 7.1 degrees and the wind wasn't as much of a factor as I thought it would be at first...

Paul...

KEN’S RESPONSE

I was out at 5:20 AM and it was already getting light in the East. If it is clear tomorrow AM, I will start at 5:am.

I did see a 6th magnitude something with the 7X50 binoculars, but it was too dim to see a tail and it was probably a star (that makes a triangle with Algedi and Dabih)

It is fun trying.

Did anyone else have better luck?

Ken Dore

DATEN’S RESPONSE

I was already in bed when you sent this last night, so I didn't have my binocs out this morning. I did notice how incredibly bright Venus was at 5:30 this morning. I will be leaving for work at 5:30 tomorrow morning so I will give myself and extra 15 minutes to look for this comet. I think it should be clear again and a little warmer. As long as my 9 month old isn't crying for a bottle...I plan on looking for this comet.

Daten

BOB’S RESPONSE

Consider me dedicated, Pete

10 degrees out, and some wind still blowing. But I got the comet at 04:54 this morning. It is higher than I anticipated, but Venus is the guidestar. Move left from Venus to a line of four faint stars running from the lower left to the upper right of the FOV, and the comet is just to the lower right of that line. I was at the only reasonably clear E horizon that I have nearby, at the Tiverton HS, and it is not truly dark there, although they had two serendipitously blown out lights in the parking lot (I didn't do it, honest) right where I had to look.

The nucleus is all I could see. No tail from where I was, even with the 22x100's sitting on a pillow on the roof of my car. The nucleus is very obvious, about half the apparent size of Venus. It would probably be nearly the size of Venus from a dark spot.

But it is there. Thanks for the challenge. Nothing gets an old Marine out of bed on a freezing morning faster than a challenge from an Air Force guy!!

Clear skies

Bob

PETE'S CONCLUSIONS:

We had 2 firm viewings, 1 probable viewing, and 2 failures. Plus we have confirmed that ASSNE has 5 members with very questionable sanity.
Last edited by Pete on Sat Mar 04, 2006 3:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Daten

Comet Pojmanski

Unread post by Daten » Tue Feb 28, 2006 7:37 am

Well I was out on my steps at 5:00 am this morning in 18 degree weather. It was balmy compared to yesterday. I am pretty sure I saw the comet with my 15 X 70 Oberwerk binocs. I could see Dabih and Algedi and above them to the east several stars and the comet. At 5:05 am, when I was confirming that the object was the comet, a bank of clouds rolled in from the South. Now I know right where to look, so I will be out around 5:00 am whenever I can to observe it and watch for movement against the background stars.

Daten
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Pete
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Giving Pojmanski one more try.....

Unread post by Pete » Sun Mar 05, 2006 1:40 pm

February 5th.

Spurred on by various web reports of sightings and by a forecast of reasonably clear weather this morning I laid out all 3 sets of binoculars and plotted out the predicted position for comet C/2006 A1 Pojmanski. This will be my 3rd or 4th attempt.

Going to bed I felt like a kid on Christmas Eve. I set that internal alarm clock in my head for 04:15, and just to be safe I set the real alarm clock for 04:30 hrs. Fortunately the head alarm went off before the one that would wake Carrie.

Unlike Paul, Bob, Daten and Ken I’m a bit lazy in my observing. Pulling a coat over my bathrobe I open the east pointing window in my second floor bathroom, position my observing chair next to the toilet, and grab for my 7X50s. Venus is still midway in the trees, but 2 fist widths to the left of Venus and 2 fists above the horizon I’m above the trees. That’s wonderful. What isn’t wonderful is that there are no major stars in the immediate vicinity of Pojmanski, and I’m not seeing a darned thing thru the 7X50s.

At 04:56 hrs I switched to my comet-hunters (the 15X70mm Oberwerks). And at 05:00 I encountered a fuzzy 6th magnitude star in an open pattern of other 6th mag stars. I wasn’t seeing these stars at all in the 7X50s so dawn must be approaching. Grabbing my print-out I find that I’d stopped printing reference stars at 5th magnitude. I’d left the computer on in anticipation of a problem, and quickly printed out a new chart with stars to 7th mag. Ahhh yes. I’ve confirmed the star pattern. This is it.

05:14 hrs. Now I’ve got the 20X100mm binocs resting on the window sill, and the comet is pretty bright. There appears to be a very short wide flaring tail pointing toward the west. I’ve heard web comments that the comet has a green tint, and maybe there is just a touch of green to it. Eventually (around 05:29) Pojmanski fades from sight in the dawn light.

Neat comet. Since Pojmanski is moving rapidly away from the sun I may try again later in the week when it’s moved to a darker section of the morning sky.

Pete

Feb 6, 2006 Trying for a bit earlier in the AM, I was back in my open window at 04:00 hrs. Pojmanski was high but there was a bit of low haze, and the comet didn't appear out of the murk until 04:20. Even then it was obscured and no nearby stars were visible. It seems that viewing this comet is a compromise. You view early and it's in the murk. You view late and it's in the lightening sky. And you view next week (Feb 14th) and although it's at 42.5° above the horizon at 04:00 hrs, it's gone from 6.9 to 7.9 magnitude. Sometimes ya just can't win.

Pete
Last edited by Pete on Tue Mar 07, 2006 4:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Galaxy77
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Unread post by Galaxy77 » Sun Mar 05, 2006 3:40 pm

Hi Pete Sun March 5

I got it this morning and clearly saw a strong hint of tail I went out at 5:08 AM , the skies were dark and clear, indicating very dry atmospherics......I swept eastward from Venus ( avoiding bino contact with it) and at approx 14 deg found it surrounded by some 8th and 9th mag stars and a pair of doubles. It was EASY in the 10 x 70 Oberwerks and not obvious at all in my 50 MM Fujinon's........What a difference that aperature made ! :lol:


Roger :P
Clear Skies !!
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Greg Stone
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Comet

Unread post by Greg Stone » Wed Mar 08, 2006 5:27 am

I saw Comet Pojamanski last week with the 15X45 IS Canon's by driving down the road a quarter mile where therw's a clear eastern horizon. Then when I got back home I realised it was visible from my driveway just above the treeline - this was about 5:15.

This morning, with Mag 5 - 5.5 skies and average seeing I was out at 4 am and the comet was an easy object for the 15X45s a little below the tail of the Dolphin, though much as I remember it from last week. I could also pick it up in 10X50s, but in those it was just a fuzzy star and I probably would have skimmed past it if I didn't know it was there. In the 20X80 Garretts on a UA parallelogram mount, the view was very nice - much like a globular. That thought made me check out M13 directly overhead for comparison. My impression was the difference in size between the comet and M13 was very much like the difference I remember between M13 and M92. (Of course this is all very subjective, since you are trying to compensate for the fact that M13 is directly overhead and the comet is only about 18 degrees above the horizon.)

I tried to do a magnitude estimate by throwing nearby stars out of focus so they looked more like the comet. There were three stars in a row going up from the comet - HIP101966 (6.37), Iota Delphinius (5.4) and Epsilon Delphinius (4.0). Bluring these for comparison I would put the comet at about Mag 6 - but I know such estimates are crude.

With each instrument I searched for the tail. Even used an 8-inch Antares DOB with Mark's 30mm ClearVue, as well as a 15mm GSO Superview and a sharper, 15mm Celstron Plossl. I could detect the hint of a tail in the right direction - but "detect" is the operable word. It was nothing that was obvious to me in any instrument.

What was surprising to me was the grainy appearance of the Comet when I used the 8-inch scope. The nucleus was solid, but the rest distinctively grainy like a globular that you could just start to resolve.
He "who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed." Albert Einstein
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Dan Chieppa
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Saw Comet Pojmanski on March 8th

Unread post by Dan Chieppa » Wed Mar 08, 2006 4:27 pm

Greetings,
Add my name, and my wife as well, to the list of crazy people willing to get up early to see this comet. I was up already today having been outside with the Meade 5-inch till midnight. We left our home and drove about ten minutes to a beach area with a good view of the eastern sky. I could not find Comet Pojmanski with my 11x80 binoculars. I was inside my car and looking through the open passenger side window. It was 4:40AM and the sky was clear. Venus was very bright. I got out of the car and set up my 80mm spotting scope on a tripod. Using Venus as my guide I started sweeping the sky to the left of Venus. I moved up about one degree per sweep. I found the comet at 4:45AM. I was a little disappointed with the view. No tail visible and it appeared as a dull, diffuse glow. I'm guessing at the magnitude, maybe 6.5-7, as the three stars in the FOV with the comet were unknown to me. I didn't have a star chart with me so I don't know what stars they were. The best view of the comet was at the lowest power, 20x. I viewed at 30x, 40x 50x and 60x. The view just got darker with no added detail. The sky was beginning to lighten up at the horizon by 5AM so we packed it in and drove home. That's it, I saw it and my wife was a good sport to tag along.
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Pete
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Unread post by Pete » Fri Mar 10, 2006 11:30 am

Hi Pete,

I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed your posting of the hunt for Pojmanski. I didn’t get a chance to look for it until Sunday morning, March 5th (I think this when you were out too?).

My goal was to at least find it and photograph it. I did, but couldn’t get the exposure I wanted because my drive on the 120mm refractor literally froze! Only one axis though. I have attached the unguided results: 3 sec. through a 40mm eyepiece. At least this is what it looked like in the eyepiece. At first I located it in my 8X40 wide angle binoculars. It looked very green to me.

Image

By the way, I attached my Sony digital DSC-F707 camera to an Orion 120mm refractor for the snapshot. I hope the drive works next time! I’d like to give it more than three seconds. Like I mentioned though, the photo is similar to the real time view in the 40mm eyepiece.

Bill Gucfa
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Pete
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Unread post by Pete » Sat Mar 11, 2006 2:41 pm

Saturday, 11 Mar 06

Hi Pete,

Before heading for work, I thought I'd sent you a couple of photos.
The comet was about 7.2 and just off the nose (about 3 degrees) of Delphinus.

Very easy to find, in the same binocular field as the head of the Dolphin.
Limiting mag. in photo is 11.01.

Image

It looks a lot like it did last Sunday.

The next challenge: How far out can we track it?! Depends on aperture? Or hunting skills?

Bill
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