Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Comet Hartley Observation Planned

A few members of the observatory have planned the observation of the comet named 103P/Hartley which currently lies in the constellation of Gemini, weather and sky conditions permitting. The comet will be out for sighting at around midnight. Keeping in mind the tight schedule of various programmes to be conducted this week, Videsh Khandeparkar has promised an outing at the observatory before the re-opening of the observatory for the season. Last year, fellow members had sighted the Comet Lulin (Green Comet).
Comet 103P/Hartley
The following is an extract from
"On October 20, the comet will be the closest it has ever been since it was discovered in 1986 by Australian astronomer Malcolm Hartley," said Don Yeomans, head of NASA's Near-Earth Object Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. and a member of the EPOXI science team. "It's unusual for a comet to approach this close. It is nice of Mother Nature to give us a preview before we see Hartley 2 in all its cometary glory with some great close-up images less than two weeks later."
Comet Hartley 2, also known as 103P/Hartley 2, is a relatively small, but very active periodic comet that orbits the sun once every 6.5 years. From dark, pristine skies in the Northern Hemisphere, the comet should be visible with binoculars as a fuzzy object in the constellation Auriga, passing south of the bright star Capella. Viewing of Hartley 2 from high ambient light locations including urban areas may be more difficult.

Sighting chart as shown on

In the early morning hours of Oct. 20, the optimal dark sky window for mid-latitude northern observers is under two hours in length. This dark interval will occur between the time when the nearly-full moon sets at about 4:50 a.m. (local time) and when the morning twilight begins at about 6:35 a.m.
By October 22, the comet will have passed through the constellation Auriga. It will continue its journey across the night sky in the direction of the constellation Gemini.
The comet cometh: Hartley 2 visible in night sky
The animation shows Comet Hartley 2 moving through the night sky on Oct. 1, 2010

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