Dances With Comets – C/2010 V1 Ikeya Murakami


For those of you working on your Comet Hunter’s certificates – or for those who just love these travelers from the Oort Cloud – there’s a new partner in the morning sky. Say hello to C/2010 V1 Ikeya Murakami! If you’re familiar with how a comet looks and already know the steps, then let the easiness lure you out. However, if you’ve never danced with a comet before, then come inside and we’ll teach you the steps…

Our first teacher is John Chumack of Galactic Images who sent us the le ad picture for this article. Not all comets jump right out of the sky at you, and some require you wait for just the precise moment in time to catch it. As John says, “I had a very short window to grab it. I could not take more shots due to Dawn rising fast! But I did get very nice details… and it is sporting a little red tail, and a great bow shock!” As you can read, even just a few moments are worth it and the clue here is that Comet Ikeya Murakami isn’t in the easiest of places for most observers. How about if we find out exactly where to look?

Follow the green brick road! This morning comet Ikeya Murakami would have been a same field object with Saturn and it’s headed toward Venus. How easy can it get? Simply aim your binoculars at Saturn and slowly follow the trajectory towards Venus. By November 30 Ikeya Murakami will be about 2 degrees north of the stunningly bright planet and also a same field object  in most binoculars.

So, what would the comet be like to watch for awhile? First off, remember that what you will see in binoculars and a small telescope will resemble a small, unresolved globular cluster. It will be a faint fuzzy with a faint tail. More aperture will help, but the approaching Sun is the real culprit here. Comet C/2010 V1 Ikeya Murakami won’t be terribly bright, but you might catch other interesting things while you watch, too. Just ask the one and only Joe Brimacombe!

If you don’t catch C/2010 V1 Ikeya Murakami on the first try – don’t be disappointed… And try again! (the “Aqua” Man would.) But don’t wait too long because the Moon is going to be along soon, making morning skies even brighter. If you do catch it, be sure to share your impressions with us…

Cuz’ there ain’t nothin’ like a little dance before dawn.

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