Lulin at closest approach

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Lulin at closest approach

Unread post by Pete »


I'd yet to observe Lulin, and although I'm still pretty well incapacitated with flu I figured that it wouldn't kill me to step outside for a minute with binoculars. And a little pre planning should minimize my exposure.

Guide 8 shows C/2007 N3 Lulin to be 2° south of Saturn tonight. Stepping out on the back deck a little after 19:00, it's about 60% cloud and the east is obscured. Ah well, Saturn's not up yet anyway.

20:03 hrs. This time Saturn is clearly visible to the east and a bit above my neighbor's roofline. Steadying the 15X70s on the edge of the observatory roof I can see the 4th magnitude star about 3/4° from Saturn in the 2 'o clock position, but I can't see a couple of 7th mag stars that should be in the fov, and I don't see Lulin. Obviously there's some high haze.

Going back into the house I calculate my binoc fov to be 4.4°. So holding Saturn on the left edge of the fov should center Lulin. If the sky clears.

2-24-09 01:30 hrs. As luck (and an old man's bladder) would have it, I'm up. And glancing out the window the sky appears to be clear. Clad in nothing but slippers and a fortuitously long winter coat I step out on the deck one more time. It takes a minute to get oriented as there are 3 bright "stars" out. OK, that's Arcturus over there so Saturn's gotta be the guy messing up Leo. Viewing thru the 15X70 I immediately confirm Saturn, and moving Saturn to the left edge of the fov does indeed center a bright hazy blob about 20' in diameter. There's no bright nucleus, no tail and no obvious color, but given the small aperture and the condition of my eyes that's no big surprise.

Since they so often arrive unanticipated, and since they often surprise us with their performance, I do love comets. But I'm afraid that I just can't get worked up about Lulin. Greg Stone has a better capability than I when it comes to observing commentary and I refer you to Greg's posting on this event: ... -of-lulin/

If you didn't catch it last night, the Clear Sky Clock promises a re-run tonight. It's not a great comet but its the best we've got. Enjoy!

Pete P.
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Unread post by WCGucfa »

Hi Pete,

Thanks for your post. I too went out around 5 this morning and wasn't going to mention it until you gave your report here.
I deliberately didn't put out the trash last night to force me into going out this morning! :wink: This worked very well and I took along my 12x60 binoculars to my curb side destination. I was pulling trash with one hand and holding the binocs with the other!
Well, as excited as I am with Lulin, it being placed at 5:00 in my western sky (toward Providence) made it appear more like a tiny scud cloud rather than an astronomical spectacle making its closest approach to Earth. I've never seen a comet look so boring in my 12x60's!!

I'll be out much earlier tonight, trying to put the spice back into my astro love life!

Comets:40, Best Meteor shwr: Leonids '01, Best Aurora:Oct. '03.
Total.Sol.Eclipse,7/10/72 from Nova Scotia.Annular Sol. Eclipse '94,
Trans.of Venus 2004&2012.,ShoeLevy crash into Jupiter '94.
4/25/66 fireball-9 mag.,SN2011fe,N2012aw,DelphN2013.
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Unread post by Rotorhead »

At 04:45 this morning, I was also fortuitously awake (I think Bruce coined the term 'the wee-wee hours of the morning :lol: ). It so happens that the tail of Leo, along with Saturn and the comet, were in a gap in my trees and in perhaps the darkest part of my home sky. Armed with my 10x50's resting on a uni-pod (a.k.a. a paint roller extension handle and sanding pad) I was able to get a very nice view of Saturn and Lulin, with several lovely blue/white field stars. The air over Tiverton had some tiny puffy clouds, but the sky around them was clear and dark. This is perhaps my sixth visual observation of this comet, dating back to August at Mark's house, when my 22x100's were barely enough to nail this comet in it's very early approach phases, between Ophiuchus and Sagittarius.

Some experts say that this is the first and only visible pass that this comet will make. After this, it may depart the solar system forever. To see something so fleeting in the same FOV as a gas giant is an attractive target for me. Comets have always fascinated me. I love them, sometimes because they can be so darn elusive, and sometimes because they are spectacular. Last Saturday in Mattapoisett, we had this comet in my big dob. It was fairly spectacular, with a green glow and a bright nucleus. I recommend putting some power on it before it is gone. Some comets are nice in context, this one is better in detail.
Bob M
15" f5 Starsplitter Dob/80mm Finder
5" Explore Scientific triplet APO on a Vixen Sphinx GEM
"He numbers all the stars, and calls each one by name." Ps 147:4