The Comet that wasn't,
New Eyepieces Tests
Posted: 11 July 2020
Clouds from monsoonal moisture arrived mid-day on Wednesday, 8 July 2020, about a day earlier than forecast. Thursday, 9 July, was cloudy. The local contractor came to do some more work on my replacement POD Zenith Table (PZT). We made a slight design modification on the fly. He will return in a few days to complete the PZT.
Friday, 10 July, began cloudy. The Bighorn Fire had burned 119,236 acres but was now 85% contained. Mid-afternoon the sky was mostly clear, giving some hope that I might be able to try to observe Comet C/2020 F3 NEOWISE very low in the northwestern sky immediately after sunset.
Open: Friday, 10 July 2020, 1905 MST
Conditions: Mostly clear
12" f/8 LX600 w/StarLock
2" 24mm UWA eyepiece
2" 17mm 92° eyepiece
2" 12mm 92° eyepiece
2" 9mm 120° eyepiece
After opening the dome I went to the house front patio to watch for the comet. That location is slightly higher in elevation than the observatory and has pretty good view of the horizon from the southwest to the west and northwest.
There were some clouds low in the sky as the Sun began to set.
1936 MST: sunset.
1939 MST: using 12x50 binoculars I saw what might be Comet C/2020 F3 NEOWISE low in the sky in about the right location. There was a short bright "tail" visible through the thin clouds that sort of pointed away from the Sun (as expected) with a bright "head".
I watched the "comet" using 12x50 binoculars and could see no movement. That seemed to rule out the object being a jet contrail.
Here is a magnified view from the same photograph.
Mouseover or tap on image
I took several photos of the "comet". When I reviewed the photos I could see that the "comet" was moving horizontally over the distant mountains. Oops, it was a jet contrail from an aircraft a very long distance away. Oh well. Will try again the next evening, clouds permitting.
2001 MST: with the clouds along the horizon and the real Comet to set at 2018 MST I ended my observation attempt and returned to the observatory. I relaxed on the observatory patio bench until 2030 MST.
2032 MST: LX600 ON, StarLock OFF, High Precision OFF.
2034 MST: viewed M57 (Ring Nebula), 102X.
I then began observing some Deep Sky Objects using the new Explore Scientific eyepieces for my upcoming review. Unfortunately, clouds were increasing.
2100 MST: ended the eyepieces tests due to the clouds.
2101 MST: LX600 OFF.
Close: Friday, 10 July 2020, 2110 MST
Session Length: 2h 05m|
Conditions: Partly cloudy
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