Comet observation details
Comet – C/2017 S3 ( PanSTARRS) Sketch July 18th 2018 00:00 UT
Louisburgh Co Mayo Ireland
South is up.
Dob / 1,200 mm FL, 32 mm eyepiece, Magnification 37X
DC 6, Mag7.5 / 8
No colour visible
No tail visible
No filters used
Pastel and gel pen on black card
Observing and drawing Comet C/2017 S3 (PanSTARRS)
In Ireland we are having the best summer weather in over 40 years. Days of continental heat,water restrictions, dry ground , struggling plants and animals. Ironically despite the clear daytime skies the sun itself has been almost devoid of drama. My more recent focus of attention has turned to a new kid on the block. Comet – C/2017 S3 (PanSTARRS) on its first visit to our solar system. An icy comet oozing gasses from within itself as it heads toward the sun. Perihelion is on August 15th, many think it will not survive past this point. On that date it will be 0.21 AU ( Astronomical Units) from the sun. Its journey has so far given us two recent outbursts making it jump up in magnitude and therfore become visible under dark skies. A visitor from the Oort cloud in our own backyard. Something unique to seek , find and record.
At the moment even midnight holds onto the light of day, therefore as the comet heads downwards it will be increasingly difficult to observe. A short window for viewing is available so if you can make the most of that. The comets coma is approxmatly 260,000 km in diameter, imagine if we could observe it from a spacecraft as it zoomed by.
While I was observing, Mars dazzeled like an emergency becon over my right shoulder. The galaxy arced overhead. That magnificent highway of stars dust and gas just had to be ignored while I searched for my target. The nightsky surounding Cappela was bright. Inky dark clouds moving slowly settled from time to time, frustrating my efforts to find the comet.
Bats darted around, sheep baaed as Atlantic waves broke on the shore below. Capella flashed out of the cloud when it finally decided to move along eastward. Eventually I star hopped my way to my target, which like most comets looked like a grey blob of candy floss hanging around in a star field. It is always a special pleasure to find and draw a comet, mainly I guess because it is a moving object and a new object. At 2am local time I hoped to get a second sketch to show the comet’s movement through the field of view, however clouds prevented that. Am hopeful that a few clear nights will come my way soon and another sketch or two will satisfy my curiosity. The Sky Live will help you find it or you could ask at your local astronomy club. Here in the link is some information about the Pan-STARRS Telescope system in Hawaii.