Comet 46P/Wirtanen

Tried to see this comet last night.

It is really frustrating for a lot of reasons.

  1. The “guides” to spotting it are often terrible. I looked at several dozen such guides and they generally have “helpful” info like right ascension and declination and such. Good for amateur astronomers. Not so great for regular folk.

Finally found a semi-helpful page today. I just want: What direction? How high up? for a given location/hour.

  1. Light pollution, esp. with a fairly bright Moon. I hardly see any stars at all, naked eye. Never mind the thousands in the star charts. Egad. It’s like looking at a road map that includes every possible footpath with little to tell them apart from real roads.

  2. Trees. I am surrounded by trees. I get glimpses here and there of some of the sky. Moving around a bit I can most of the sky.

Note: I am not walking around my neighbor hood at night with a pair of binoculars. In addition, I’d have to stick to the streets and the street lights (and the zillion “security” lights people have put up in recent years) make that a very poor option. Also forget driving, etc. due to my situation.

So it was supposed to be near the Pleiades. Great. I know them well. Can’t see them thru the trees almost at all. Got a glimpse at one spot thru the binoculars. Tried to move to see the sky nearby. Lost 'em.

But eventually I did spot an odd color fuzz between two bright stars. Hmm. I don’t know.

I’ll try again tonight to see if it moved.

This is the one that we used.

Unfortunately, it technically ended last night but I imagine it won’t be too hard to extrapolate for a day or two. Find Orion, then Aldebaraan and then the Pleiades. It is on the line 75% of the way from Aldebaraan to the Pleiades and then up a bit. We could pick it out by eye and binoculars from Seattle two days ago. It is really high in the sky, fwiw.

I should add that with our binoculars, we could really pick out the Pleiades and that one star to their left, the comet was between the two, but it doesn’t stand out that impressively (at least in our light polution) that it wasn’t worth dragging anyone out of bed to see.

Hazy sky last night. No joy.

I’ve tried to see it for the last few nights, in between rain clouds, but haven’t yet.
You are correct that those pages that proport to tell you where to look are pretty useless. I can fiend the Pleiades, but from there, pffft!

The wide-field finder charts here http://wirtanen.astro.umd.edu/46P/46P_finder_charts.shtml are from Stellarium, which you can download and run yourself.