Comet Holmes

Although it’s not getting any media play, there’s a bright wanderer in the sky that has literally cropped up out of nowhere.

Comet Holmes (officially Comet 17P/Holmes) has been known for a while, and until a few nights ago, it was quiet, extremely faint, and of no real note. However, late last week, it jumped in magnitude from about mag 17 to about 2.5 — naked eye territory. And in fact, you can find it easily in Perseus as of this writing. Even the bright moon is not hindering it.

It’s a weird one though. My understanding is that it is on the far side of the sun from us, and since a comet’s tail grows away from the sun, we get our view of the comet as a “head on” perspective. So, no real tail as viewed from Earth, but instead, it looks a gigantic fuzzball. It’s been very cool to watch, so last night I figured I’d take my 40D and my seldom-used Celestron 750mm f/6 lens out.

It was a cold night, and that seemed to help with the shooting. It’s obvious that I didn’t have the focus quite right, but this stack of fifteen shots, each 2 seconds in length, ain’t a bad capture of what the little snowball looked like. You can clearly see the nucleus, and plenty of shiny stuff around it.