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Re: [comets-ml] PanSTARRS: An Appreciation?

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  • Alan Hale
    Hello everyone, Adding my $0.02 worth to the discussion . . . I would say that PANSTARRS is not a great comet by any means, but it s a pretty decent one.
    Message 1 of 13 , Mar 17, 2013
      Hello everyone,

      Adding my $0.02 worth to the discussion . . .

      I would say that PANSTARRS is not a "great" comet by any means, but it's a
      pretty decent one. It's unfortunate that the viewing geometry is so poor and
      that it remains low in twilight; it would probably be a pretty spectacular
      object if it could be seen higher up in a darker sky. As it is, there are
      several comets I've seen that I consider "better" even though they weren't
      as bright; they were nevertheless better placed and easier to see. I've only
      been able to glimpse PANSTARRS with the naked eye thus far.

      For what it's worth, it seems to be fading somewhat. Tonight I estimated
      m1=1.8 (March 18.09 UT, 10x50 binoculars; comparison with Alpha Andromedae
      and corrected for differential extinction) whereas I was getting m1 around
      1.3 a few nights ago. The tail seems brighter, though, and longer; in the 20
      cm telescope it was easily 40 arcminutes long or longer.

      Sincerely,

      Alan





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    • stuartatkinson2013
      Ok, so it hasn t been a Great Comet as we hoped months ago, and it s not been another Hale-Bopp, but really, all this wailing and gnashing of teeth over poor
      Message 2 of 13 , Mar 18, 2013
        Ok, so it hasn't been a Great Comet as we hoped months ago, and it's not been another Hale-Bopp, but really, all this wailing and gnashing of teeth over poor little PANSTARRS is misplaced. It's done its best, and although it's been an absolute pig to observe here in the UK because of our weather, and its low magnitude in a twilight sky, for people who've made the effort to get somewhere dark, and hunt for gaps in the weather, it's been really quite pretty. I've seen it on three different occasions now, and have had to fight against weather and light pollution each time, but it was more than worth it. Lovely colour, nicely framed above trees and hilltops, and naked eye at its best. Can't knock that.

        And if it's hard to see, the answer is *help* people *see* it. We're the ones who know where it is, and when, we have something of a duty to help non-astronomers see it, not just because it's a good thing to do but because some of those people might go on to become astronomers and comet observers themselves. It's an investment in the future, as is all Outreach. I was put off trying to make serious observations - magnitude estimates etc - a while ago, by some of the comments on here in part, so here in Kendal I made a conscious decision to use PANSTARRS as an Outreach comet. We had 100 people at a Comet Watch we organised, and on the other occasions we've seen the comet we've made sure that non-astronomers who wanted to see it were helped to do that. For me personally that's meant taking fewer pictures than I'd wanted, actually looking at it through a telescope eyepiece less than I had wanted, but that meant others saw a comet for the first time in their lives. And when you have a little girl peer into your eyepiece and whisper to you "It looks like a fairy...!" well, taking another picture suddenly isn't so important. :-)

        As for bloggers, well, we're easy targets because blogging is still seen in some quarters as just people tapping away at a computer for hours on end, saying nothing, but people need to remember that it's bloggers - responsible bloggers, I mean - who are providing the most up to date, accurate and practical advice and information about this comet. The mass media are just recycling the original press releases (which is why some people think PANSTARRS is *still* 'near the Moon) and if you go into a newsagents/magazine store and reach up for a March issue of one of the popular monthly astronomy mags their "See The Comet!" guides were written so far in advance that they're still referring to PANSTARRS in very optimistic terms. Not their fault, at all, that's the way magazines have to operate, with a time delay effectively. But many bloggers are making great efforts to provide bang up to date info and observing advice that can't be found elsewhere.

        Personally I'll look back on PANSTARRS quite fondly, as a challenging, shy comet I "beat", and as an astronomical event I shared with great company, that many people enjoyed.

        As for ISON, well, it will do what it does, and we don't know what that will be yet. But can we not talk it down in advance quite so much? Although it's not true, non-astronomers coming here might be forgiven for thinking that some people actually *want* ISON to fizzle and fail, just so they can say "Told you so..." ;-)


        >
        > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        >
      • Eddie
        Right on Stuart!:) Yes it is our responsibility to show our little, not so great Comet just because it s not easy to see! Yes, but there wasn t as much Hype
        Message 3 of 13 , Mar 18, 2013
          Right on Stuart!:)

          Yes it is our responsibility to show our little, not so great Comet just because it's not easy to see!

          Yes, but there wasn't as much "Hype" as there has been about Ison....
          Hopefully it will be easy!

          I'm more concerned about the horrid weather and weather reporting here in the states..

          Horizon hugging, Comet eating crocodile clouds looking for poor astronomers to harrass!

          Not to mention Meteorologists who can't even get the weather forecasting straight from day to day!

          Clear skies for comet watching to all!

          Ed Murray

          --- In comets-ml@yahoogroups.com, "stuartatkinson2013" <stuartatkinson2013@...> wrote:
          >
          > Ok, so it hasn't been a Great Comet as we hoped months ago, and it's not been another Hale-Bopp, but really, all this wailing and gnashing of teeth over poor little PANSTARRS is misplaced.
        • Toni Scarmato
          Dear all, sorry but after to many time passed to observe comets I don’t understand some things! I follow with interest the discusion about the magnitude of
          Message 4 of 13 , Mar 18, 2013
            Dear all,

            sorry but after to many time passed to observe comets I don’t understand some things!
            I follow with interest the discusion about the magnitude of C/2011 L4.

            I published on my PanStarrs homepage

            http://digilander.libero.it/infosis/homepage/astronomia/c2011l4.htm

            a movie that show the comet visible at about 0.5 deg above the horizon.
            The ICQ Table of Atmosferic Extinction show that at Z=89 deg for my location at 186 m above the sea level the extincion is 7.38 mag!
            As I described in my comments the comet was well visible in 7x50 binoculars at that altitude and I estimed –1.0 the mag of the comet
            using a star at 62 deg of altitude and also using my record of the comet C/2006 P1 in the same conditions!

            My question is: how is possible to see clearly a comet at about 0.5 deg of altitude with a strong extincition if the comet was at positive magnitude 1 or >?
            Thanks for the attention.
            Regards,
            Toni Scarmato

            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • Ellen Papenburg
            Hear hear! Stuart and Eddie. It looks like a fairy , that s priceless!! You know, I always told my youngsters of the youth astronomy group inthe 70s in the
            Message 5 of 13 , Mar 18, 2013
              Hear hear! Stuart and Eddie.

              "It looks like a fairy", that's priceless!!

              You know, I always told my youngsters of the youth astronomy group inthe
              70s in the Netherlands: Self criticism is important, to aim high is
              good, but to just enjoy it all is just as important and to never lose
              that wonder and awe.

              And getting the public interested IS very important. "Our" farmer (of
              the driveway we use to set up watching PanSTARRS) came over and saw the
              comet through our 15x70... He was amazed to see it. Again, priceless! So
              let's not forget the other side of this hobby / science... a small elite
              group with not enough fresh blood is not going to last, they will die
              out like the dinosaurs even though they were so successful. We need to
              encourage new people, whilst still aiming high, but we should not
              discourage them with inadvertently putting up a wall and a moat.

              So how can we share our experience and our methods? We had a very active
              group in Holland before I went to Canada (sure they are still active)
              and at that time I would dare to say that the observations were pretty
              good even though not ten years of experience of all. I beg to challenge
              this "ten years" criterium.

              I haven't done much observing the last decades (building a life and a
              family) but we (Jim even, and I) sure saw (Like Alan Hale said) that the
              comet has diminished on March 17 compared with March 16, but after all
              the comments here, I haven't even tried to do an official estimate.
              Mistake probably? but so be it!

              If ten years (of how intensive observations? and how do we arrive at
              this IMHO arbitrary threshold anyway?) is the criterium and if natural
              aptitude to performing a good observation isn't taken into account, I
              think I, for instance, will always be a beginner, right? and I am afraid
              many other willing and enthused amateurs with me... should we even
              bother anymore? I also would claim that some people even after decades
              of observations never "get it".. so I seriously question what the
              "valuable observation" criterium actually factually should be?

              So, instead of being part of doing the old visual magnitude estimate
              (guestimate), I used this little comet as encouragement to set my first
              timid steps onto digital... so much to learn, such a learning curve, and
              there I was decades ago developing my own pics Kodak Tri-X, etc, but
              also, it was easy... just open up that camera and let the slide film do
              the job. Last time was Hyakutakeh and Hale-Bopp so... but now it is
              getting just as easy if not easier for these kind of objects with
              digital...

              Well, now I know the basics of DSLR too, LOL... (welcome to the 21st
              century Ellen... )
              So much fun!! Next step stacking...

              I will post pics later on some website....

              BTW - warm yesterday compared with day (-11C) before .. -7C .."balmy"

              Wishing you all great weather and clear skies!

              Ellen - also at times a grumpy old.. uhm well .. woman in my case >:-)


              On 18/03/2013 12:11 PM, Eddie wrote:
              >
              > Right on Stuart!:)
              >
              > Yes it is our responsibility to show our little, not so great Comet
              > just because it's not easy to see!
              >
              > Yes, but there wasn't as much "Hype" as there has been about Ison....
              > Hopefully it will be easy!
              >
              > I'm more concerned about the horrid weather and weather reporting here
              > in the states..
              >
              > Horizon hugging, Comet eating crocodile clouds looking for poor
              > astronomers to harrass!
              >
              > Not to mention Meteorologists who can't even get the weather
              > forecasting straight from day to day!
              >
              > Clear skies for comet watching to all!
              >
              > Ed Murray
              >
              > --- In comets-ml@yahoogroups.com <mailto:comets-ml%40yahoogroups.com>,
              > "stuartatkinson2013" <stuartatkinson2013@...> wrote:
              > >
              > > Ok, so it hasn't been a Great Comet as we hoped months ago, and it's
              > not been another Hale-Bopp, but really, all this wailing and gnashing
              > of teeth over poor little PANSTARRS is misplaced.
              >



              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • David Nicholls
              ... Yes. A few years ago when Comet McNaught was just beginning its display in the western twilight, I was up in the Bush (open woodland) on the hill above
              Message 6 of 13 , Mar 18, 2013
                On 19/03/2013, at 1:52 AM, stuartatkinson2013 <stuartatkinson2013@...> wrote:

                > And if it's hard to see, the answer is *help* people *see* it. We're the ones who know where it is, and when, we have something of a duty to help non-astronomers see it, not just because it's a good thing to do but because some of those people might go on to become astronomers and comet observers themselves. It's an investment in the future, as is all Outreach.

                Yes. A few years ago when Comet McNaught was just beginning its display in the western twilight, I was up in the Bush (open woodland) on the hill above where I live in Canberra, in mid twilight. From the right spot it offers good views to the west.

                I had seen the comet clearly with binoculars and the naked eye, when I noticed an older couple (even older than me) looking to the western sky. I asked them if they were looking for the comet. Yes, but they'd been searching for half an hour and couldn't find it. As it happened, there was large tree 50 metres away which completely hid the comet from them. I showed them where to move to, to see it properly. They were delighted.

                A simple thing, but sometimes these things can make a big difference.

                DN
              • terryjlovejoy
                PANSTARRS might not have been that conspicuous with the naked eye, but has been a wonderful object in binoculars. A Great Binocular comet might be an apt
                Message 7 of 13 , Mar 19, 2013
                  PANSTARRS might not have been that conspicuous with the naked eye, but has been a wonderful object in binoculars. A "Great Binocular comet" might be an apt term. In some ways it brought back memories of Comet McNaught with it's intense coma and bright tail, even if wasn't quite as bright and large.

                  Terry
                • Michael Mattiazzo
                  One other very important point to mention is that distance to Earth plays a big part in determining Great Comet potential. PANSTARRS had no chance, being
                  Message 8 of 13 , Mar 19, 2013
                    One other very important point to mention is that distance to Earth plays a big part in determining Great Comet potential.
                    PANSTARRS had no chance, being 1.09AU away on March 5th.
                    ISON on the other hand will be 0.42AU from Earth on Dec 26 post perihelion.
                    Now THAT IS Great Comet potential.

                    cheers,
                    Michael


                    .
                    ----- Original Message -----
                    From: terryjlovejoy
                    To: comets-ml@yahoogroups.com
                    Sent: Tuesday, March 19, 2013 7:18 PM
                    Subject: [comets-ml] Re: PanSTARRS: An Appreciation?



                    PANSTARRS might not have been that conspicuous with the naked eye, but has been a wonderful object in binoculars. A "Great Binocular comet" might be an apt term. In some ways it brought back memories of Comet McNaught with it's intense coma and bright tail, even if wasn't quite as bright and large.

                    Terry



                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                  • aum22355
                    Hi: I read an article some years back about that factor when Hyakutake and Hale-Bopp had been observed. It stated that if all other elements of their
                    Message 9 of 13 , Mar 19, 2013
                      Hi:
                      I read an article some years back about that factor when Hyakutake and Hale-Bopp had been observed. It stated that if all other elements of their appraritions were kept the same, but belonged to the other comet, Hyakutake would have been relatively inconspicous naked eye, +4 magnitude or so, and Hale-Bopp, wonderful as it was to begin with, would have been ~ -7 magnitude.
                      Sincerely,
                      Michael


                      -----Original Message-----
                      From: Michael Mattiazzo <mmatti@...>
                      To: comets-ml <comets-ml@yahoogroups.com>
                      Sent: Tue, Mar 19, 2013 6:47 am
                      Subject: Re: [comets-ml] Re: PanSTARRS: An Appreciation?






                      One other very important point to mention is that distance to Earth plays a big part in determining Great Comet potential.
                      PANSTARRS had no chance, being 1.09AU away on March 5th.
                      ISON on the other hand will be 0.42AU from Earth on Dec 26 post perihelion.
                      Now THAT IS Great Comet potential.

                      cheers,
                      Michael

                      .
                      ----- Original Message -----
                      From: terryjlovejoy
                      To: comets-ml@yahoogroups.com
                      Sent: Tuesday, March 19, 2013 7:18 PM
                      Subject: [comets-ml] Re: PanSTARRS: An Appreciation?

                      PANSTARRS might not have been that conspicuous with the naked eye, but has been a wonderful object in binoculars. A "Great Binocular comet" might be an apt term. In some ways it brought back memories of Comet McNaught with it's intense coma and bright tail, even if wasn't quite as bright and large.

                      Terry

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