252P LINEAR

This comet made a fairly close pass to the Earth, on March 21/22 it passed within 5.3 million km of the earth.  This made for a much brighter visual observing opportunity for this dimmer periodic visitor.  Also, an extremely faint comet was on an extremely similar orbit, P/2016 BA14 (PanSTARRS ) and it got even closer to Earth.

Being so close, it moved very fast across the sky in the Southern hemisphere, only to arrive within view locally (March 25) while the moon occupied the same space!  Within a week the moon cleared out and visual observations were being made.




APRIL 2, 2016
I first managed to first view this comet on April 2 at around 3AM from Broemmelsiek Park (an orange-yellow zone).  It was barely observable, low in the Southeast (and in the St Louis light dome) using my 25x100s.  I was surprised that I could also detect it in the 10x50s, but just barely.  My drawing over-states the brightness of the comet on this first effort.







APRIL 3, 2016
I observed 252P a second time from a Green zone, at 4AM on the following day.  It was much more obvious today, benefiting from both from a darker sky as well as being at a higher altitude in the sky.  This will be a good 10x50 comet from most suburban locales around 5:30AM in only a few days.  On both dates Mu Ophiuchus was conveniently within the 3.5* field of view.









April 17, 2016
After being out of town on business last week and coming back a little too exhausted to get up at 4:30AM (and not being happy about sunrise being so much earlier all of a sudden), I finally got myself up to view this comet again.  Now that this comet is higher in the sky, I knew that it would be possible to view it from my home so I planned to look for it from my back deck.  I awoke around 4:45AM and got dressed quickly.

I first grabbed my 10x50s.  After several tries, and getting ready to give up, I tried one more time and found that I could just barely perceive it, with averted vision.  As before, not good enough that I cared to draw the FOV from the 10x50s view.

Next I brought out the 25x100s.  I was surprised that the view wasn't all that much better.  Better than 'barely perceptible', but only into the "Very Faint" category.   It was easy to find, just above sigma Ophiuchus.  What was slightly oblong last time was a little more obvious this time.  No condensation noticeable.  I REALLY tried to 'see green' this time, but I could not trust that I did as the coma was simply too dim.  

I'll note that this was my first observation of it from my home (in an orange zone).  I managed to wake up (purposefully) around moonset.  I'm sure that the waxing gibbous moon would have completely drowned this comet out.

Although this is a periodic comet, this was a really close pass and it is likely that we'll not see this one in binos again in my lifetime.



















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