I really love drawing comets, it is sometimes challenging to find them but always a thrill when you do. So, in essence, I occasionally spend time trying to find chunks of ice, dust and gas travelling through space. Some might consider that a bit mad, however, it can be very satisfying.
Back in October 2007, I started to observe Comet C17 P/ Holmes. My drawings of that comet go from when it was a very small dot until it became the largest object in the solar system. Here is a previous article about that comet.
It is the changes these objects go through that really absorbs my interest. Their shape changes as they outgas, develop tails or their comas become thin enough to allow stars behind them to shine through. Enjoyment also comes from following their journeys across the night sky. Sometimes another object in the viewing vicinity becomes a target for sketching. Like a beautiful overlooked jewel. Recently three comets were in good locations for me to view. So far I have only managed to capture two of them. The third comet C/2019 Y4 (ATLAS) has broken up and is difficult to catch.
C/2017 T2 ( PANSTARRS)
This comet was a mere faint blob in my field of view. I had tried to see it several times but conditions did not favour my efforts at the time. It is in the constellation Camelopardalis at the moment. Heavens-Above will give you its general location but if you can put it into your Stellarium for a more precise hunt. The Sky Live is a great one for detail.
C/2019 Y1 (ATLAS)
This was a more satisfying comet to draw because it had a brighter central condensation than Panstarrs and a more defined shape. This comet is still available to view, it is not far from C/2019 T2 ( Panstarrs) at the moment but is in the constellation Cepheus. Again refer to Heavens-Above for the general area, or introduce it into your Stellarium.
A little Jewel – The Jolly Roger Cluster
Fog, mist and cloud thwarted my sketch on April 14th so I finished in on April 15th. Love the Jolly Roger name, had to sketch it. That sketch was a bit awkward for me as I was standing on a small ladder, balancing my clipboard and sketching items. I was delighted to see it when I was looking for C/2017 T2 (PANSTARRS). A windy night in which my sketching pastels and gel pens got blown all over the deck. Shiver me timbers, I was lucky that they didn’t fall between the boards.
New kid on the block C/2020 F8 (SWAN)
Just very recently this comet has been introduced into Stellarium. At the moment it is a non-viewing object for northern hemisphere astronomers. This comet is bright at the moment, mag. 5.5 ! So hope reigns eternal once again for it to become visible with the naked eye in the evening sky, but I think it will be low in the sky during May. Comets can surprise and disappoint in equal measures; let’s wait and see.