Home > Comets > Comet 17P Holmes Winter 2007

Comet 17P Holmes Winter 2007

What a great visual sight this has been over the last winter! Comet 17P Holmes, normally invisible to the naked eye at magnitude +17, suddenly flared up to magnitude +2.5 between October 23-25th 2007 due to a spectacular internal explosion. Suddenly we had what appeared to be a new star in the constellation Perseus close to Mirfak. It was easily naked eye visual and in binoculars, or a small telescope, it appeared as a small white circle with a fainter greyish outer halo. Over the next three months the outer halo expanded enormously so that by the end of December it was much larger than the full moon. For much of November and December it’s shape resembled a huge jellyfish flying through space. It is now fading because it has become so large and diffuse and it is also receding away from us, however a small telescope will still resolve the comet and we should be able to see it for at least two more months. It is currently magnitude 4.5 and will be mag 5.2 by the end of April.

I managed to photograph it on a couple of occasions. The photo below shows the comet left of centre as a creamy white circle in Perseus on 28/10/07. This is more or less what it looked like to the naked eye. Taken with Canon 350d, 2 seconds at ISO 1600 on Alt/Az mount.
On 13/12/07 I photographed Holmes again after it had expanded to the size of the moon and the jellyfish shape can be clearly seen. Canon 350d at prime focus, Equinox ED 80, EQ6 mount, 3 minutes ISO 800……….
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