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Wednesday, April 6, 2016

COMET 252P LINEAR AND MERCURY

Location:  Morning - West Saint John, NB, Canada

Evening - Prince of Wales, NB, Canada

Date Time:  April 5, 2016 0500-0615hrs and 2045-2050hrs

Weather:  Morning - Mostly clear, though many fast moving see-through clouds in Comets' direction proved challenging, -8C windchill -16C, high winds bitter cold.

Evening - Clear, light breeze to no wind, -5C windchill -9C.

Attendance:  Morning - Ed O and Myself.

Evening - Myself.

Equipment:  Canon Rebel Xsi with 75-300mm lens on a tripod.  Eds' 15x70 Binoculars.

Objective:  To view and image Comet 252P Linear which was reported to be rising in the SSE morning sky before dawn.

Highlights:
Morning

  • Comet Linear was reported to be in Ophiuchus, just above and to the left of the pairing of Saturn and Mars.
  • Ed and I both noted how bright Mars appeared.  Much brighter than Saturn.
  • We located the Comet easily with Ed binoculars, with both of us noting how big it appeared in field of view.  Ed thought he could see green in the comet where I just thought it looked like a very dark, sort of grayish hazy patch, next to a bright star.
  • During observing time Comet was at about 45 degrees elevation.   We both noted how high it was becoming.  The Comet is moving higher in our morning sky each day.
  • Neither of us could see Comet with naked-eye.  Needed binos to see it.
  • Could not see it through camera lens, so had to guess where to aim camera.  Of many images taken, Comet only showed up in two images.  These images only appeared after downloading on computer and then processing.  Comet then popped out in one image, next to a passing satellite.
  • This Comet has proven to be challenging to view and image for several reasons.  Our weather has been mostly cloudy, with heavy winds since it first came into view around March 31.  Also the Moon phase up until April 2 has been a major factor.  On April 1, it was clear, but the third quarter Moon was very bright and almost right on top of the Comet.  April 5 morning, though extremely cold and windy with some fast moving clouds, was the first decent chance to view it.
Evening:

  • On Hwy 1 west of Saint John, noticed Mercury pop into view low in the Western twilight sky.  Stopped along the side of the road in Prince of Wales and imaged it.  Appeared as a lone, un-twinkling star.
Note:  Comet 252P Linear was accompanied by another Comet, Comet 2016 BA14.  According to Space.com, 252P Linear came within 14 Lunar distances of Earth or 5.6 Million Kms, making it the 5th closest Comet to Earth.

Comet BA14 came within 9 Lunar Distance or 3.4 Million Kms.  This would make it the second closest Comet to Earth after Comet D/1770 L1 Lexell which buzzed Earth in the year 1770 at a distance of 6 Lunar Distances or 2.2 Million Kms.


Images:
Finder Chart from www.skyandtelescope.com



Region Comet was in during observing and imaging on April 5, 2016.



Path of Comet 252P Linear at time it was imaged, April 5, 2016 @ 0515hrs AST.

Path of Comet 252P Linear during close approach to Earth on March 19, 2016.  Image shows how close came to Earth.


Satellite passes above Comet during imaging.





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