Thursday, 14 January 2016

Comet Catalina C/2013 US10

When I was talking about comets in my previous post, I actually had this beauty in mind. But in order to see it, you either have to stay up late of wake up very early. Since I hate getting out of bed early and with bad weather forecast for the next couple of days, yesterday evening was going to be now or never if I ever wanted to have a go at this bright and interesting comet. I live about a 25-min drive away from my observation spot in the mountains and left home at 23:45 with Arcturus and the big dipper rising nicely in the northeastern sky. But when I finally arrived... the whole sky had clouded up, apart from a small hole in Orion. I could've died from agony and desperation right there! What had I done to deserve such a cruel fate? I had already seen so many stunning pictures of Catalina and read dozens of enthusiastic observation reports but alas, I felt that I was never going to see it with my own eyes. There was again a lot of wind and I was trying to find out whether the clouds were moving or not and if that hole would perhaps be so kind as to move to the other side of the sky. The clouds were indeed racing along, but for some strange reason the hole remained fixed in Orion and Taurus. I decided to wait 10 minutes and see what would happen next. I had driven all the way up anyway so 10 minutes wouldn't hurt. The hole refused to move but became slightly larger. Suddenly I saw Jupiter appearing through the clouds. Hmmm... perhaps I should wait a bit more. You never know, the gods might turn to my favour. Then, every once and a while, I saw the 4 main stars of the big dipper piercing through as well. The clouds were becoming thinner and slowly... very slowly... a hole appeared right above my head and started expanding towards the tail of the dipper. It seemed to last forever before finally the comet became visible (in reality it was about an hour later) and I managed to make this sketch. The clouds didn't move far away though and every now and then they covered the comet again. In the end a long veil of thin clouds established itself right in front of the comet, growing rapidly and eventually making any observation impossible. But fortunately I've been granted a reasonably fair view for 10 to 15 minutes and I'm extremely grateful for that. When I arrived I first thought that that would be the end and that the rain front had arrived earlier than predicted. But in the end my patience and determination paid off and I won't have regret that I never had the chance to see beautiful Catalina. So... NEVER DESPAIR! :-) 


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