CACAO Home | Calendar | History | Sitemap

Gallery: 46P/Wirtanen Text Reports

Name/Location Observation Date & Time
Eliud Bonilla
2018.12.11 ~11pm EST
The night was an exercise in futility between a lost intervalometer cable for my DSLR, hazy skies, cold temps and neighbors with brand new backyard lights. But after 10:30PM when everyone on the homefront was asleep I picked up my second hand Bushnell binocular (7X50) just to take a look at Orion which was clearly visible and at least feel like I had salvaged the night.
After focusing the binoculars and working on my technique to stabilize them as much as possible, I was surprised of how they could punch through the urban light (I live a few blocks away from the Wash DC beltway in Montgomery County) and provide nice discrimination between the stars and the Orion Nebula. I checked out other sections of the sky and decided to give 46P/Wirtanen a try. Using Stellarium and the binocular settings I had input (just like I showed at our brown bag lunch), I started iteratively star hopping between the Pleiades, Taurus/Aldebaran, and Menkar, getting closer and closer until at about 10:52PM I confirmed sighting 46P.
Mike Kelley
Columbia, MD
2018.12.10 ~10:30pm EST
I finally saw it, and it was not easy! I went over it several times with my 12x50 binoculars, but only recognized what it was after I plotted it in Stellarium. Using the finder charts or RA and Dec was not good enough for Columbia skies. With averted vision and circling around I am sure that was comet Wirtanen.

TF: Me too! Finally clear skies.
I originally couldn't find it with 10x25 binoculars. I got out my 4" telescope, and it was pretty obvious as an extended smudge. It is very diffuse, with almost no central condensation. It is right where the finder chart says it should be (if you correct for the time of observation).
After figuring out where it was and what it looked like, I was then able to detect it with the binoculars (with averted vision). Challenging.
However, with my binoculars, I can't even see the faintest stars in the finder charts, which means the sky background is pretty bright (I'm overlooking DC). So I was very satisfied that I was able to see it at all.
Looking forward to seeing it from the dark skies of Flagstaff.

MSK: Yeah, the finder charts are correct, but I needed more stars so that I could make an asterism to locate it. Otherwise, I wasn't really recognizing that it was a comet.
Elizabeth Warner
College Park, MD
2018.12.05 & 12.07 evening EST
Had 9 folks show up over the three hours. Got to see Mars and Neptune in the same fov, so that was cool.
No eyeball only view yet of Wirtanen, but it was pretty hazy. However, I did get some pics... they won't be great because of the haze. Haven't gotten flats yet...
There's some pics from Wed night (Open House, clear, r', and SA-200 (grating)). Tonight, I used clear, g', r', and exo-bb (blue blocker) all at 90sec.
Had guiding issues and people walking around scope issues on Wed.Tonight, guiding was fine. I had wanted to try to guide on comet but it just wasn't visible in the guidescope camera. SO comet drifts across frame over the 2.5 hours of exposures...
Have Army-Navy game and guests on Saturday...

Oh, and meant to include that the streaks in several images are likely geosynch satellites... the comet was at -6dec .
And a few images near the beginning were guided on the comet, then lost it and had to guide on a star...
Elizabeth Warner
Alexandria, VA
2018.11.28 10:30pm EST
Just went out to try to observe Wirtanen. Was able to positively identify stars in area (according to attached chart), but could see nothing with binocs.
No worries about horizon, but plenty of light pollution over Old Town... but viewing south is not as bad... but no comet...

MSK: I tried at about the same time. Not enough stars for me.
JGB: Trees... still too low for my local.
Blaine Dickey
northern Utah
2018.11.26 evening
Tonight seemed like a good night to see if I could spot 46P/Wirtanen. The sky was clear and dark when I took out my diamond back 10 x 42mm binoculars. Using a celestron app called SkyPortal I located the star field where the comet was supposed to be. Star hopping beginning at Beta Cetus I followed a memorized star pattern until I located the comet just south of Kappa Fornasis. It was larger and dimmer than i expected with little condescension near the center and somewhat elongated. Next I retrieved a 5 inch rich field reflector scope from my observatory and though it now seemed brighter it still looked very similar to the binocular view with very little condesention and quite elongated. The weather is not looking too good for the next week here in nortern Utah, but if it clears off I hope to get some images of it with my 12 inch LX200R which I will pass on to you.

Table 1: Contains listing of and links to written reports about 46P/Wirtanen with most recent descriptions at top of the list.

Updated: 14-Dec-2018