This comet promises to be around for several months, and is putting on a good show early. It will have two "close" passes to Earth (Aug 23, 2011 and March 5, 2012), and its' perhelion with the sun isn't until Dec 23. It is not projected to get much brighter than Mag 6, so it will likely be a VERY good bino object.
The first observation was on July 22, 2011 from Broemmelsiek Park, in St Charles County, MO.
It was a simple fuzz-ball, near Theta and Epsilon Pegasi.
The 3rd observation, on the night of Aug 1, had a much stronger show for a tail. Still a wisp, and only seen at higher magnitudes, but was now a tail more noticeable. It was super-cool to view this in the same FOV as the globular cluster M15!
While this comet may not get very bright (probably due to its' size estimate), at this rate it may show quite a tail from dark skies later this year.
A note on my sketches here: I usually draw only the brightest or most proximate (and relevant) stars in the Field of View (FOV). It is lazy, but also more efficient.
Finally some dark skies to observe from! I expected the tail to grow accordingly. It was basically the same size, just more noticeable, nearly direct vision, but not quite. Still the tail was now easily visible (Averted Vision) at 60x (the drawing is at 60x).
My impression was that the tail was larger earlier in this evening than it was later on. Perhaps it was an artifact of my vision on the eyepiece, who knows.
We will be enjoying views of this comet for the next 7 months. I expect to have fun comparing these older notes to the changes in the future.
While it is not expected to be a very bright comet, I have hopes that this tail will grow a bunch as it approaches perhelion in December.
The second observation (Left), on July 31, also from B-siek Park, showed visible hints of a tail. Several astrophotos had been released showing a stubby tail, and I was surprised to see it visually this soon after.
Third Observation 8/1/2011 (click to Enlarge):
The tail has grown noticeably, even as seen from the suburbs at Broemmelsiek Park. I could not wait to see it from a darker sky site!
The contrast vs. M71 was not quite as cool as M15, but now the tail was there. It was also visible now at 60x (the drawing is at 60x).
I had to note that my earlier observation, while showing the pair to other folks at 60x thru less than transparent skies, made me confused over which was the comet. My memory of M71 was not that good, and I expected that IT was the one with the pinpoint bright center. A later peep at 203x resolved M71 into stars. No wonder Messier got confused! Transparency improved after the crowd left, and that's when the tail showed up.
Fifth Observation 8/27/11 (Click to Enlarge):
6th observation, November 24, 2011. Found the comet easily, by its' coma. Observing a short while revealed a dim fan tail. Longer observations detected a long but very dim and thinner dust tail Not much time to observe this now, as it gets low in the west quickly after the sky gets dark.
I recommend lower powers on this comet at this time. My best view was at 61x.
The moonlight will kill eyepiece views of the tail next week. My future observations of this comet, if any, will likely be morning views in the east, probably from Whiteside MO.