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July 2012

July 18, 2012
    I searched the predawn sky for the first time in many days.
At 3 am before the dawn, Taurus, embracing Jupiter in the middle, began rising. I had not seen this constellation for some time. I remembered that Comet Ikeya C/1964 N1 had been discovered in the Hyades in Taurus in early July, 1964. It was at 7th magnitude trailing a short tail trailing.
In those days I was searching using a 9cm x17 comet seeker, though I am using 15cm x 25 binoculars at present. I searched slewing the binoculars horizontally and the stars were sharp and clear. @
    The only chance left for comet hunters nowadays is spotting a comet coming around the sun in a retrograde orbit and suddenly appearing in the low predawn sky. Many of the discoveries made in the past by visual observers have been of this kind of comets.
My first discovery (C/1961 T1 = 1962 f in October 1961) was a typical example of capturing such a comet and at the time of discovery this comet was just passing perihelion. It was only 15 degrees above the horizon in the morning twilight.
    It is particularly exhilarating to watch the progressing twilight in the starry sky with your own eyes, content with completing comet search without any problem. How many days and hours like this have I spent on unproductive nights in the past? Taurus rising in the eastern sky was already enveloped in the glow of the autumn zodiacal light.

The Pleiades (Subaru), Jupiter, and Hyades

Copyright (C) 2012 Tsutomu Seki.