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MaineJay

Comet 46P/Wirtanen OBS

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This seems like a good opportunity for folks to see a comet.

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Comet 46P/Wirtanen

Comet 46P/Wirtanen is a short-period comet with an orbital period of 5.4 years. The comet is relatively small in size with an estimated diameter of just 1.2 kilometers. The object was the original target for ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft but the launch window was missed so 67P/Churymov-Gerasimenko was Rosetta’s target in the end. 

Discovery

Comet 46P/Wirtanen was discovered by Carl A. Wirtanen in 1948 at the Lick Observatory, California via photographic plate. The plate was exposed on 17 January 1948 during a stellar proper motion survey at the observatory. It took over a year before the object was recognised  as a short-period comet due to a lack of observations. 

Hyperactive Comet

46P belongs to a small family of comets that boast a higher level of activity than expected for their nucleus size. They emit more water vapor than they should. This is one of the reasons for added interest in this regular visitor to the proximity of Earth’s orbit .   

2018 Perihelion

The next perihelion passage of comet Wirtanen will be on 16 December 2018 when it will pass 0.078 AU (7,220,000 mi) from Earth. The icy space rock is expected to reach magnitude 3. This is the brightest prediction of known and future passes of this comet. This is also currently the brightest prediction for all comet passes in 2018 unless a new discovery is made after time of writing (we can but hope!).

Observing opportunities [Updated October 2018] 

Comet Wirtanen is currently at visual magnitude 10 making it observable in modest sized backyard telescopes. The comet will however gradually brighten further through 2018.

Throughout the summer months, the comet has moved from Aquarius in to Cetus brightening to magnitude 12 by the end of August. Wirtanen then dipped further South where the icy rock currently  struggles to rise above 20 for observers at any location above 50 deg latitude (Northern Europe or Northern United States and Canada).

Throughout the Autumn, the comet will begin to increase in brightness quite considerably but sinks ever lower as it reaches the midway point between Fornax and Sculptor making observation difficult for observers above 50 degrees in latitude.

Things begin to improve through November after a dramatic U-turn moving swiftly North through Eridanus towards Taurus. This is where the comet will reach closest approach on 16 December 2018, right at the point when positioned between the Pleiades and Hayades clusters. From here on in, the comet remains in a much more favourable position for northern sky observers high up in the sky by after sunset.

46p1.jpg.695e378abe0e87222398733b4ecb4ea9.jpg

 

http://www.cometwatch.co.uk/comet-46p-wirtanen/

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I will be attempting to get out and photograph this comet over the next couple weeks.

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Here’s a map to assist the layperson like myself in finding it in the eastern sky.  (I assume this is correct.). 

A chance to see meteors and a comet at the same time!  Hoping for clear skies.

EDIT 12/13/18:  I think one is better off using the link to the maps that MJ provided below.  First find Orion and the Pleiades Cluster to orient oneself.  Taurus, for me at least, is a little more difficult to find.

1895FCE0-3DDA-4097-9765-F313630B8F6A.png

Edited by Hiramite
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So,I realized that this is higher in the sky earlier in the evening, I should've went out sooner and I wouldn't have had to walk down the street to get a better angle, plus, it would've been warmer. 8.2° now so the battery was training quick.  I know how to dress, so I wasn't cold, but I think it was messing with my ability to focus, cause I was having a tough time tonight. Probably need glasses too...

Anywho, here's what I got, so long as I get some clear nights these next couole weeks, I'll put in a better effort.

Like I said, I might be a bit out off focus.  And no post processing.

Nikon D3100

35mm/f1.8

ISO 3200

8 sec.

Wide shot

 

DSC_0546.thumb.JPG.d9db36586da3e79a360cb5485efc3bb6.JPG

Cropped, in case you can't see it.

20181209_004252.thumb.jpg.3096a46210a2a2f62fdfbc8d33b834fe.jpg

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When I loaded pictures on my phone, I noticed some built in filters, most are useless for my users, but the auto looked decent.  I'm not sure it's better than the unedited version. 

Here's the same shot as above, just filtered, which injur do you all like better?

Edit: I swapped the picture for a cropped version, much smaller file. 

20181209_073817.thumb.jpg.905bde690fe270a590e4d42ba7c0b838.jpg

 

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Jay, for some reason I like the edited one. The surrounding stars are more visible? Not sure, but they both look great! Thanks for going out in the frigid night to get the pics!

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57 minutes ago, lynniethelurker said:

Jay, for some reason I like the edited one. The surrounding stars are more visible? Not sure, but they both look great! Thanks for going out in the frigid night to get the pics!

Thanks, and it's my pleasure.

Fingers are crossed that it stays clear enough over the next few hours when I get r chance to try again.  I agree, the comet stands out more as well I think.  It should get brighter every night till the 16th, so hopefully I capture an image.  Couldn't tell if was visable to the naked eye due to the light from the camera, but I'll try to let my eyes acclimate tonight.

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Yeah, I like the edited one too.

I went out tonight at 6:30-7:00 and gave it the old college try but no luck. 

I’m wondering if it was dark enough here at that time.  My sunset is 4:54. @MaineJay what time did you go out?

(I have to drive down the road to get away from the trees so I have a field of view so it’s a bit of an effort to keep checking.)

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2 hours ago, Hiramite said:

Yeah, I like the edited one too.

I went out tonight at 6:30-7:00 and gave it the old college try but no luck. 

I’m wondering if it was dark enough here at that time.  My sunset is 4:54. @MaineJay what time did you go out?

(I have to drive down the road to get away from the trees so I have a field of view so it’s a bit of an effort to keep checking.)

I went out at 11 last night, 930 tonight, I would've went sooner, but had to get the kids asleep. 

I can see it about 2 hours past sunset, which is like 4pm.  I can never get my eyes adjusted because of looking at the camera LCD, but I think I was seeing it, although faintly, and by not looking directly at it.  It's higher up the earlier you go out.  

Don't judge me on this shot, the focus is off. I threw on the wide angle for a couple test shots after I saw a couple meteors, trying to catch one with the comet. But was getting tired and I thought the clouds were going to start moving in. 

You can see Orion on thur left and the Pleiades at the top, red arrow arrow pointing at Wirtanen. 

12mm f/4 30sec ISO 3200

20181209_225222.thumb.jpg.0429425dd57a1e7a2b3efbc0c6911c63.jpg

I had some settings wrong last night which I corrected.   Haven't used the camera in too long. 

Just cropped 

35mm f/1.8 6sec ISO 3200

20181209_223146.thumb.jpg.a049a973d5658634505d7c031f0fd3e2.jpg

Tighter crop with enhancement

20181209_222933.thumb.jpg.86bf72a9868430fd7cbce58ecc28ca00.jpg

 

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I think I might venture out right now and see if it's clear enough to see anything. We have cloud cover so much the past few months, hard to get a cloudless sky anymore. Thanks for the pics, Jay! When the site went down I was afraid I wouldn't get to see any more of your comet pics!:classic_sad:

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Put my coat on, hood up, and was ready to look for the comet. No street lights here, but Christmas lights across the street are pretty bright. No matter...looked up, complete cloud cover. :352nmsp:

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12 hours ago, lynniethelurker said:

Put my coat on, hood up, and was ready to look for the comet. No street lights here, but Christmas lights across the street are pretty bright. No matter...looked up, complete cloud cover. :352nmsp:

This is my fear where I live south of Lake Erie.  I posted in the Fall Long Range thread about how cloudy its been here.  Only two "fair" days in all of Sept, Oct, Nov!!   According to the NWS point & click, my next chance of a relatively clear night is next Tuesday.  :classic_angry:  Since the comet has a longer window of opportunity, I'm more worried about missing the meteors.

Here's to clear skies in your neck of the woods!

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Just now, Hiramite said:

This is my fear where I live south of Lake Erie.  I posted in the Fall Long Range thread about how cloudy its been here.  Only two "fair" days in all of Sept, Oct, Nov!!   According to the NWS point & click, my next chance of a relatively clear night is next Tuesday.  :classic_angry:  Since the comet has a longer window of opportunity, I'm more worried about missing the meteors.

Here's to clear skies in your neck of the woods!

Oh man, I hear ya loud and clear! I can probably count the blue sky/cloudless days we've had the past months on one hand. Some days start out nice and sunny, but by noon the clouds start rolling in, and total cloud cover by late afternoon. It's happening today...started out with beautiful, clear skies, but now clouds are moving in. Pretty sure I won't have clear skies tonight either, as they're calling for a little snow tonight into tomorrow. We have no street lights up here, so viewing of events like this is usually pretty good...except when it's always cloudy! :28_2_8v:

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MJ, or whomever, do I have this right?  Each night, the comet appears first high in the eastern sky then gradually descends and moves westward thru the course of the night.  Around 11:00 PM, its in the southern sky on Dec 16th.  Each night up until the 16th it moves higher in the sky.

If I get the opportunity again, I want to find this bugger.  I wish my sky came with a red arrow. :classic_smile:

I'll try and use my Sky Guide app again but its a little fickle for pinpointing the location of something.

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Yup, it should get higher and brighter until the16th, but we are beginning to contend with the moon.

I like to use the 5 stars that kinda make a triangle in Taurus to find it.  Skies are wicked clear tonight, temps are dropping quick, but I plan on bundling up and putting in some time.

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Hope you can get some great pics.

Using my Sky Guide app, this is the best I can do at this time with yet another cloudy night. :classic_laugh:

 

732D6464-E6DD-46C1-BD3E-F2231D604914.png

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This is my story....

Around 7:30, I noticed some stations across OH  reported partly cloudy skies.  I checked but found only clouds. Then, as I was about to retire for the evening around 10:00 or so, I gave one last look out the window and saw stars!! I rushed outside with my phone and 10x50’s and found the comet in short order. To me, it was a light fuzzy area, way bigger than the nearby stars, with no discernible bright spot. As I was observing it, a couple of Geminid’s shot by! Went back in for more appropriate outerwear and came out to find the patchy clouds moved back in.  I stayed out awhile catching glimpse of both the comet and a few meteors between the passing clouds.  Some may argue, but I’m counting it as a Festivus miracle!!:yahoo:

PS: If what I saw tonight is any indication, the Geminid peak should be spectacular.

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As I posted in the other thread, I wasn't out long, but it was worth it. 

Cross posting my best shot

20181213_014146.thumb.jpg.4c14df03f355c278a283dc6a8778f126.jpg

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Such an amazing shot, MJ! So jealous of the beautiful clear sky you have up there!

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For the heck of it, since we finally got a beautifully clear night, I went out and tried to find Mr. Wirtanen.  No such luck, MJ was correct in saying last week that the moon is too bright now.  One can easily walk around, even in the woods, without the aid of artificial light.

Edited by Hiramite

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Beautiful shot MJ! That's a 'booker' fer sure!

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