Saturday, October 16, 2010
Comet 103P/Hartley Enters the Southen Skies
Comet 103P Hartley 2 has now entered the southern skies. The comet has been reported by northern observers to be visible to the unaided eye as a faint fuzzy dot under dark sky conditions. In the southern hemisphere, with the comet closer to the horizon, it will be difficult to spot until later in the week (and of course the horrible weather means we have had little opportunity to see it).
Unfortunately you need to get up around 4 am (local daylight saving time, 3 am local standard time). Also unfortunately, Moonlight will begin to interfere by the end of the week.
The comet should become brighter, leading up to its closest approach on October 20, but will never get brighter than between magnitude 4-5.
Naturally the comet will be best seen from dark sky sites. It will be easily seen in binoculars, and it races through the sky through some pretty territory (lots of binocular friendly open clusters).
Spotters map of 103P Hartley in black and white, suitable for printing out (you need to click to embiggen and print the embiggened map) .
Alternatively you can download this printable back and white PDF Map.
If you want to add 103P Hartley to Stellarium or Celestia, the elements for those programs are here.