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The Great Christmas Comet of 2011!

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  • David Seargent
    Hi all, At last, a clear morning here at Cowra. And the comet was glorious! tail was measured at 15 degrees, with the furthest portion dividing into a split
    Message 1 of 2 , Dec 22, 2011
      Hi all,
      At last, a clear morning here at Cowra. And the comet was glorious!
      tail was measured at 15 degrees, with the furthest portion dividing into a split main tail and a secondary emerging from the curving main one, giving the effect of a spreading triple tail. The main tail was judged to be about three quarters of a degree in width.
      By contrast, the coma was very inconspicuous. In the 25x100 binocular telescope, a very rough estimate gave just mag. 5. However, saying that the comet was fifth magnitude gives absolutely no impression of the spectacle! The head was simply lost against the intense tail.
      I had the strong impression that the central portion (in terms of length) of the tail was the brightest. The extremity was (not surprisingly) fainter, but the section closest the head was (more surprisingly!) fainter as well. At first, I thought that this was just the effect of lower elevation, however the impression continued as the comet rose higher, so I now think that it was at least partially real (although elevation no doubt contributed to some degree.) I recall that the same was true of Ikeya-Seki. In that instance, the brighter section was crossed by stria, however, I saw no evidence of stria in W3. Interestingly, with the naked eye, the tail seemed to wax and wane in intensity; an effect also noted in Ikeya-Seki. No doubt, this is simply due to waves in our atmosphere, but it nevertheless added to the spectacle.
      There is no doubt that this comet is included amongst the Great Comets of history. Not the "greatest of the Greats" like Ikeya-Seki, Hyakutake, Hale-Bopp and McNaught, but certainly high on the list of the runners up!
      Once more, congratulations Terry on this historic find. Your skill and dedication has been well rewarded!

      David

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • jureatanackov@gmail.com
      Thank you David for this most impressive report! Together with Lester Barnes stunning image I was easily rendered speechless. I ve been wondering when comet
      Message 2 of 2 , Dec 22, 2011
        Thank you David for this most impressive report! Together with Lester Barnes' stunning image I was easily rendered speechless. I've been wondering when comet Lovejoy would earn the title Great comet and between your description and Lester's image, and all other images and reports from observers around the southern hemisphere, there is no question about it. The Great comet of 2011 it is.

        Comet Lovejoy being a Great comet does imply another (very) impressive fact: just about any Kreutz sungrazer that does survive perihelion, even a small one, has the potential to become a Great comet. It only depends on the timing. So with a bit more luck then, both comet Pereyra and White-Ortiz-Boleli could have become Great comets.

        Clear skies!
        Jure

        --- In comets-ml@yahoogroups.com, David Seargent <seargent@...> wrote:
        >
        >
        > Hi all,
        > At last, a clear morning here at Cowra. And the comet was glorious!
        > tail was measured at 15 degrees, with the furthest portion dividing into a split main tail and a secondary emerging from the curving main one, giving the effect of a spreading triple tail. The main tail was judged to be about three quarters of a degree in width.
        > By contrast, the coma was very inconspicuous. In the 25x100 binocular telescope, a very rough estimate gave just mag. 5. However, saying that the comet was fifth magnitude gives absolutely no impression of the spectacle! The head was simply lost against the intense tail.
        > I had the strong impression that the central portion (in terms of length) of the tail was the brightest. The extremity was (not surprisingly) fainter, but the section closest the head was (more surprisingly!) fainter as well. At first, I thought that this was just the effect of lower elevation, however the impression continued as the comet rose higher, so I now think that it was at least partially real (although elevation no doubt contributed to some degree.) I recall that the same was true of Ikeya-Seki. In that instance, the brighter section was crossed by stria, however, I saw no evidence of stria in W3. Interestingly, with the naked eye, the tail seemed to wax and wane in intensity; an effect also noted in Ikeya-Seki. No doubt, this is simply due to waves in our atmosphere, but it nevertheless added to the spectacle.
        > There is no doubt that this comet is included amongst the Great Comets of history. Not the "greatest of the Greats" like Ikeya-Seki, Hyakutake, Hale-Bopp and McNaught, but certainly high on the list of the runners up!
        > Once more, congratulations Terry on this historic find. Your skill and dedication has been well rewarded!
        >
        > David
        >
        > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        >
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