The ISS and 46P/Wirtanen on a clear night

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The ISS and 46P/Wirtanen on a clear night

Unread post by Pete » Thu Dec 13, 2018 10:38 am

Chanel 10's Mark Searles gave a nice astronomy pitch on Tuesday night's 6 o'clock news, mentioning how to view the Geminids. Astronomy coverage is a rare thing but Dave Huestis had a front page article in the Pro Jo that morning. And Mark has attended Astronomy Day and has viewed from my observatory with his daughters. Mark also played up tonight's ISS flyover. I'd been unaware.

Anyway, on Wednesday I passed the word about the 17:35 ISS pass to folks who'd attended my fall class and to some others. And was out in the yard viewing the pass with 2 folks (who were out in their respective yards) on a cell conference call. New to me, and a great way to share the excitement of a lovely pass over the moon and Mars.

Got home from Providence around 21:00 Wednesday and the sky was CRYSTAL CLEAR :D Opened up the Zero Gravity chair on the deck and settled back to catch some Geminids. After 1/2 hour with no sightings it finally dawned on me that I should take another shot at Wirtanen. A quick check on Guide 9 shows it to be a handbreadth to the right and below Aldebaran. Mounting the Celestron 15X70 to the appropriate EZ Binoc Mount and found it almost immediately. Not brilliant but bright enough to be easily seen thru my dim eyes and the aid of a mounted binocular. Obviously not bright enough to exhibit color. The coma was approximately 10 arc-minute in diameter with no tail visible. And strangely enough, no nucleus visible.

Channel 10 has posted a great viewing guide: ... h/70006857 The closest approach will be on Sunday night but weather forecasts for tonight and the weekend probably preclude viewing until Tuesday.

Pete P.
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