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Saturday, June 13, 2009


C/2008 Q3 Garrad's amazing journey

Comet C/2008 Q3 Garrad near Centaurus A (NGC 5128), click to embiggen

Comet C/2008 Q3 Garrad is in outburst. This comet should be very faint, around magnitude 12-13 (and is still listed as such in the MPC ephemeris), but is currently around magnitude 8. Well within the reach of modest telescopes and, if you have good eyesight and are in a dark sky location, 7x50 and 10x50 binoculars. Due to a variety of factors (like cloud and an inconvenient Moon), I haven't been able to see Q3 Garrad in binoculars yet.

Which is disappointing, as the comet has been traversing some really beautiful territory. It has been near the stunning globular cluster Omega Centauri, globular cluster NGC 6362 and the galaxy Centaurus A recently. However, I was able to use the Global-Rent-a-Scope system to image C/2008 Q3 Garrad near NGC 6362 and Centaurus A.

Comet C/2008 Q3 Garrad and globular cluster NGC 6362. Click to embiggen.

Sadly, the Rent-a-scope system was clouded out when I wanted to image Omega Centauri. The images you see were taken with the widefield G12 using a 90 second 1x1 binned exposure with luminance filtering. I also took a RBG colour series of the Centaurus A encounter, but I have been unable to assemble the images into something worth while yet (anyone who has experience with Global Rent a Scopes RBG images and Image J, please contact me).

The comet is now in a quieter part of the sky, However, it will come within 3 degrees of globular cluster M68 between 21-23 June. If you would like to look for it it, there is a spotters map to the left, click to embiggen and print, and a PDF format binocular map is here.

Other images of C/2008 Garrad are here, here, and a stunning colour picture of the comet near Centaurus A by Rob Kau is here and another here.

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