C/2013 X1 PanSTARRS

January 2, 2016

I managed to get to a green zone with my dob on this very nice evening.  Unusual to have a clear sky AND temperatures in the mid-30's in early January!

X1 will probably be a very nice comet in the Southern Hemisphere, and may be fairly nice for us in the next month or two.  Hopefully it will reach binocular range before it gets too low in the South.

I was pleasantly surprised to find this comet so easily.  While not the easiest star-hop, the mag 6 and 7 stars in the finder scope matched up very well with the Pocket Sky Atlas.  I observed the comet at 60x and sketched the field of view.  While waiting for movement, I took a peek at 200x. At this higher magnification, a dim (12.5 mag) galaxy popped into view.  I was then able to discern it at 60x, but it was nearly transparent at that magnification.

There was noticeable movement after just one hour at 60x, toward Southwest.  No tail was observed, but a very slight green was noted.  I often have trouble with dim color observations, so I thought this one was perhaps a little stronger in that regard.

This should be a nice comet to follow for a couple of months, taking the place of US10 Catalina as it is now fading away.

June 6, 2016

The comet finally got far enough up that it was again to be observable at this latitude.  I arrived at Broemmelsiek Park at 2:53AM and fought to find it in the 25x100s.  It was low in the Southeast, and good star hops were hard to come by.   I knew it was very near/Southwest of the Helix, so I went into the park without my charts, leaving them in my parked car.  My normal star-hop is from Skat in Aquarius, but it was even lower in the East at 3AM.  I tried to find via Capricornus, and later via Fomalhaut.  Finally, around 3:30AM I found "the Helix" (!), very faint and amorphous, and tried to find X1 below it, and failed.  I drew the star field, then kept trying.  Around 3:55, the object was almost lost to extinction from the coming dawn, and I retreated.  When I got to my car, I checked charts again.  What I drew was not the Helix!

Both are large (at 25x) and about the same magnitude (7th), with X1 presently rated a half-magnitude brighter than NGC 7293.  The Helix is 18' and X1 is presently 12'.  So, I never saw the Helix.  The star field matched the FOV for the day on the "shopplaza" comet chart (see below), and was certainly no match for the charted stars near the Helix.   The view was fairly low in the SE (light polluted East), about 25* up (above the telephone wires).

I was disappointed not to have seen (and thus exempted any possible doubt of confusion with) the Helix, but I am personally confident of the X1 viewing due to both the FOV match and that if either of these two objects were 'extinct' by the light pollution or elevation, the Helix would be so first. 

I'm hoping to catch one or two more views of this comet in the coming month or two. It is heading South and will certainly be out of my reach later this week.  It has a slightly Northwestern motion in early July, when it will be an evening object below Sagittarius and Scorpius and I like to catch it then also if possible.

 (click on images below to enlarge)