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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Underwhelmed by Comet Lulin

I may have observed this comet a while back, but if I did it was very dim at the time and I don't remember. I haven't been out observing since my last post, but here's my brother's take on Comet Lulin (C/2007 N3) from the city with his 4.5-inch Orion Skyquest:
Hi Eric, I just got back in from my first and, given my location, possibly only look at Comet Lulin. I must say I am quite underwhelmed, especially with all the fuss there is about it. I had very good sky conditions, though it was still quite low (maybe 20-25 deg.) I can see it being 6th magnitude but it is quite large and I have seen comets at least a magnitude fainter with greater surface brightness. It was not visible in my finder. Naked eye limiting magnitude in that part of the sky was about 4.5 (I could just see nearby Theta Virginis.) Some central condensation but generally a large diffuse fuzzball. Not worth staying up till 4 when it transits, this being a work night!
My brother has also been busy compiling an Unofficial Sky & Telescope NGC/Messier/IC Index to help other packrats find Sky & Telescope articles referencing deep sky objects. Check it out and start getting more use out of all those back issues of S & T your spouse keeps threatening to donate to the local school (or recycling bin)!