It’s been a while, but there is now one comet bright enough to be visible in nothing more than my 5.1-inch reflector in the evening sky and at least four more in the morning sky!
At the beginning of last month, I managed to nab C/2017 K2 (PanSTARRRS) in Hercules for the first time in my 5.1-inch. But it has and will continue to brighten before its perihelion passage in December of 2022. This morning I took a swing at five in the morning sky and ended up batting .800.
First I went after 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann in SW Auriga since I knew it had undergone a rare "super outburst" two weeks ago. It was easy to find and see just off of Iota Aur and looked like a missing globular cluster (sorry nearby Pal 2!) with its “large” (for being over 5 AU away) coma and smooth overall brightness. It was the second time I’d ever seen ol’ 29P and was amazed that it was so bright I could see it in my 8x56 binoculars…incredible!
Next I dropped down to Zeta Tau to find 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, which had eluded me during its previous perihelion. This time I found a small little coma (compared to nearby M1) that displayed a bright core. This last feature made it bright enough to be visible in my 12x60 binoculars. I will continue to brighten a little more for another month.
Continuing on to the southeast along a line drawn from 29P through 67P, I arrived along the Orion/Gemini border. A quick hop over from Xi Ori in my 10-inch in the revealed 4P/Faye. In my 5.1-inch at 27x it had a little size to it but wasn’t easy to see considering how diffuse its coma was. I understand that it passed perihelion last month and will reach maximum brightness in the next week or so.
The final comet I was successful in seeing was C/2019 L3 (ATLAS), which was in Lynx north of Castor. It took a bit of work to find in a faint star field (had to use NGC 2419!), but was visible in my 5.1-inch as a bright but very compact and small coma. Like 29P, I found that it was also visible in my 8x56 binoculars, but it was harder.
I found the star-field for C/2021 A1 (Leonard) in lower Ursa Major with my 10-inch but failed to see the comet. In my defense though, it was only 25° up when the sky started to brighten. Hope to bag it soon so that I can see how long I can keep track of it.
As always, I use https://cometchasing.skyhound.com/ to guide me!
Edited by SNH, 10 October 2021 - 04:39 PM.