Spot Comet Hartley 2 as it passes Earth

Comet Hartley 2 can be seen with binoculars from dark skies. Credit: WillGater.com

Comet Hartley 2 is making its way through our neck of the planetary woods over the coming weeks, so now’s your chance to go out and see it.

I took the above picture of the comet last weekend. The comet itself is the green/grey smudge at the centre of the frame. The stars are trailed because the image has been processed in such a way that the comet remains stationary in the view. It’s a nice illustration of how the comet itself is zipping across the sky, against the background stars.

If you’re thinking of looking for the comet yourself, you’ll need a good pair of binoculars (or a small telescope) and some relatively dark skies. There’s a handy locator chart, showing you where to look, on Heavens-Above.com here. Don’t expect to see anything as impressive as Comet C/2006 P1 (McNaught) or Comet 17P/Holmes, from 2007, though. It appears as a faint grey smudge.

If you’re into astrophotography, the comet will also be passing close to the Double Cluster (NGC 884 & 869) on the 8 and 9 October, providing a superb celestial photo-op. Good luck, clear skies and happy comet hunting!

Update 10/10/10: Pete Lawrence caught this wonderful image of Comet Hartley 2 & the Double Cluster on the 7th October.

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