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Post by Paulie pchris00 on Feb 12, 2017 20:14:10 GMT -6
Comet Encke first became an object I wanted to observe several years ago, but despite its short orbital period, we haven't had a good apparition lately. I wouldn't call the current apparition all that great, with Comet Encke rather low in the western sky at sunset, but we currently have two planets to help guide the way.
Using the chart from page 42 of February 2017 "Astronomy" magazine, I started my starhop to Comet Encke at Venus. I followed a line from Mars, through Venus, to Omega Piscium. Once Omega Pis was in the eyepiece, I started identifying nearby stars until I found 26 Pis. At that point, I used the program "Cartes du Ciel" on my laptop to find the position of Comet Encke in relation to 26 Pis. Going back to the eyepiece, and using a broadband light pollution filter to help reduce the glare from the plethora of streetlights here in South Bend (I counted 11 streetlights visible from my observing spot), I was able to find the comet where "Cartes du Ciel" predicted. The comet was just barely there, but it was there.
Any clear nights this week might be the best opportunity to find the second recognized period comet, so get out there if you can.
Glad you were able to spot that fairly frequent visitor to the inner solar system, Paulie, and have alerted others to its presence. It has an orbital period of only 3.3 years. It was named after Franz Encke who in 1819 was the first to realize that this same comet kept returning after relatively short periods of time. As with Comet 1P/Halley, it was named after the person who first deduced its unusual orbital characteristics rather than the comet's initial discoverer.
I've created two charts for Comet 2P/Encke and an ephemeris. I estimate it will peak at magnitude +9.0 on March 10, but it may appear too close to the Sun for observation at that time. Similar graphics for five more comets currently visible through small telescopes can be found on my Comets webpage: www.CurtRenz.com/comets.html
Last Edit: Feb 13, 2017 11:53:20 GMT -6 by Centaur