Monday, January 28, 2013

Comet C/2012 F6 Lemmon Update for February.

Comet C/2012 F6 Lemmon's position as seen from Adelaide at 22:00 ACDST on January 31, looking south. The Moon rises 20 minutes later (click to embiggen).

Comet F6 Lemmon has been gradually brightening, with the most recent reports suggesting that it is now  magnitude 6.1. This is at the threshold of visibility to the unaided eye under dark skies, but unfortunately the just-past-full Moon interferes until this Thursday, 31 January, then it can be easily followed with binoculars as the Moon rises later each night.

By the 14th and 15th it may be bright enough to be visible to the unaided eye under suburban skies. This would be great as on these dates the comet is near the Small Magellanic cloud and the brigh globular cluster 47 Tucanae, which can be seen as a fuzzy star to the unaided eye. This will look quite impressive in binoculars.

The comet is currently a fuzzy green dot. While not spectacular it is quite beautiful as seen in this image on the 20th from Rob Kaufmann,  another from the 24th here and he has a great animation of the comet going through the Southern Cross here. John Drummond of New Zealand has a nice telescopic shot here. Comet Al has a nice image and an animation taken with some unusual equipment.

Printable black and white spotter map showing the course of comet C/2012 F6 Lemmon over the month. The map is for 22:00 hours ACST, similar views will be seen at equivalent local times. The map is oriented to the south, it's a bit cluttered, but the photorealistic version at the top will help guide you (click to embiggen and print). Printable black and white binocular map, use the spotter map to orient yourself. The circle is the field of view of 10x 50 binoculars. Click to embiggen and print. When using the maps, use a torch with red cellophane over the business end so as to not damage your night vision.


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