Monday, October 18, 2010

Comet Hartley 2 Fail

As I type this it is Monday, October 18, at about 11:15pm CDT and I am in a bad mood.

There is a comet in the eastern sky and I cannot see it.

Comet Hartley 2 is not a bright comet. It is small, and its estimated brightness right now is only about 8th magnitude. However it is just a couple of degrees away from a bright, easy-to-find star.

I looked with my four inch refractor and I couldn’t see it.

Damn it.

Here is the link to the Sky & Telescope page about the comet: Comet Hartley 2 At Its Best

Here is the link to the finder chart for the comet: Path of Comet Hartley 2 Oct. 18 - Nov. 3, 2010

The constellation of Auriga is not a picturesque constellation, but the bright star Capella is the only bright star to the east-northeast right now. And there is a little “triangle” of smaller stars to the right of Capella that serve as great landmarks for judging the comet’s position.

Observers are reporting that you need dark skies and good optics to see Comet Hartley 2. I’ve got terrible Chicago skies and so-so optics. But it still pisses me off that I couldn’t even get a glimpse of this comet.

Anyone living away from a city has a great opportunity now. Capella is so easy to find and easy to see that getting a look at Comet Hartley 2 should not be too hard, if you just have dark skies and a reasonable aperture.

If anyone from Chicago or another city with bright skies gets a look at Comet Hartley 2 please leave a comment or drop me an e-mail,, I’d love to hear your experience tracking down this little gem.

I’m going to be grumpy all week now.

No comments: