December 24, 2009

OBSERVING REPORT OF COMET C/2007 Q3 SIDING SPRING

The morning of 24th December was good and the naked-eye limit of stars was 4.5 near zenith. The last week was hazy and no comet hunting or observing was possible. This morning I was on my terrace at 4:30am. I wanted to observe the comet C/2007 Q3 Siding Spring which was within my telescope’s range and also a test to check whether my scope is able to show me the comet under my city skies!



I had a printed chart downloaded from http://www.skyhound.com/. I set the telescope on Alpha Coma Berenices star and tried to star hop to the comet’s location. But the comet was some 7.5 degrees away. I chose another way. I set the 5.6th magnitude star 2 Bootis and from there I set a pair two 8th magnitude stars located some 3 degrees NW of 2 Bootis. Now the comet was just 1 degree far from this pair. While scanning around this field I noted 10th magnitude fuzz only about 4’ from the 9th magnitude star. I was using 40mm Plossl eyepiece with my 8-inch reflector giving 32.5x magnification. The comet was hard to distinguish from the star at this magnification. I replaced it with 25mm Kellener eyepiece which gave 52x magnification. Now I easily identified the comet. I estimated its magnitude to be 10. It was easily visible at 52x and then at 32.5x. I didn’t spent much time to observe it because I had only an hour left for the comet hunting session. I just wanted to identify it and so I was happy because I had it.

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