Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Elusive ISON

So I met with some students on the campus where I teach this morning at 5:00 am (voluntarily - that's dedication) so we could look for comet C/2012 S1 (ISON) in the predawn sky.  It's currently in Virgo which is rising just before the Sun this time of year.

Found Spica easily enough, and then Porrima (g-virginis), which was faint, but just couldn't get ISON.  I have a feeling that at still magnitude 8.5 ("Comet of the Century" my ass), it was just too dim to pick out of the lightening eastern sky on our light-polluted campus.
OK, no problem, I thought, we'll just look for the other comet that's supposed to be even better right now - C/2013 R1 (Lovejoy).  This one's flying past Leo right now (just above the backwards "?").  It's also supposed to be a bit brighter than ISON (still not naked eye, however).

Couldn't find that either!  That was really annoying.  Given the 8" reflector we had, I should have been able to easily get it.  I feel like a complete loser today.

As a consolation, we did view Mars, Jupiter, and the Orion Nebula in all its glory (objects we haven't been able to see during normal class time on Thursday nights because they rose after class ended).  Of course I forgot to show them the Beehive (M44 - Praesepe) in Cancer.  I'm just not my best that early in the morning.

Skies were lightening by 6:00 am so we packed it up.  I went home to try to grab another hour or two of sleep but that didn't work either.  It's going to be a long day (literally, I have an event on campus from 6-8 pm tonight!).

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