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Wednesday, January 06, 2016

 

Seeing Comet C/2013 X1 and its Outburst in Australia

Location of comet C/2013 X1 (PANSTARRS) as seen looking north-west from Adelaide at astronomical twilight, and hour and a half after sunset. The comet is just below Chi and Gamma Peg (indicated). Click to embiggen.Location of comet C/2013 X1 (PANSTARRS) as seen looking north-west from Brisbane at astronomical twilight, and hour and a half after sunset. Ignore the time on the image, it is a Stellarium bug. Click to embiggen.Location of comet C/2013 X1 (PANSTARRS) as seen looking north-west from Darwin  at astronomical twilight, and hour and a half after sunset. Ignore the time on the image, it is a Stellarium bug. Click to embiggen.

Comet P/2013 X1 (PANSTARRS) is reported to be in outburst at magnitude 8.1 or brighter (there have been reports in the high 7's but I haven't seen them directly). This makes the comet potentially visible in binoculars, and rather obvious in telescopes.

Unfortunately for Australians the comet is currently in the Great Square of Pegasus, forming a triangle with Gamma and Chi Pegasi. This means that it is very low to the horizon, and can only be seen for a short time after astronomical twilight in the evening before it becomes too low.


Black and white printable map suitable for use with binoculars or a telescope. The stars Gamma nd Chi Pegasi (indicated on the chart above) are shown for orientation. The large circle is the filed of view of 10x50 binoculars, ad the small circle the FOV of a 24 mm eyepiece on a 114mm Newtonian reflector. Click to embiggen and print. 

Southern Australia has the worst view, with the comet only 10 degrees or a little bit more above the horizon, where horizon murk will make it harder to see.

Northern Australia has the best views with the comet 20 degrees above the north-west horizon at the latitude of Brisbane at astronomical twilight, and 41 degrees above the north-west horizon at the latitude of Darwin at astronomical twilight.
 
My image of C/2013 X1 taken with the iTelescope remote scope T20 in New Mexico on the 4th.

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