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Nice observation Mark, and very wise not calling Kent at 5 AM. Paybacks are hell.
On Nov 24, 2020, at 7:32 AM, Mark Ost <jimcoble2000@...> wrote:
I had a very narrow observation window for this comet which lies east of Venus in the morning. The comet rises at 0500 and the sun is closely following at 0600 with the sky lightening at 0530 if you are in a dark place. Erasmus is heading toward the sun if I am not mistaken and has become a nice telescopic comet in the past few days.
I headed out at 0415 for a remote spot out by Fentress Airfield. The spot is right between 4 large farm fields on a very little used public one lane road. There is a perfect spot right before one of the obscure back gates that access the airfield. It is really a gate with no fence blocking access to a back track on government property. There is a twenty foot paved section prior to the gate where it is easy to park. You are covered by the one bush in the area. The east has a low horizon with light domes of Virginia Beach and Chesapeake at your back. This gave access to Venus and the comet easily. I arrived at 0450 and quickly set up my 20x80 binoculars on the mount. Venus was orange in the low sky. I was able to acquire the comet quickly as it lies level with Venus and slightly left of Corvus. It only took a second to see it low in the gloom. At first it was hard to estimate the magnitude being so low in the sky but as it rose I estimated it to be 7th to 8th magnitude. No way to see it from the city or suburbs. As it got higher in the morning sky and my eyes adapted to the dark surroundings I could detect a tail extending away from the comet. This was averted vision so in no way was as bright as NEOWISE. It appears to have a bright condensed core though that would be more easily seen with a 4 inch or larger telescope. I observed it until 0530. By then the comet was getting brighter and was easy to distinguish from the background in a somewhat blank part of the sky. It was worth observing for 40 minutes as more detail was coming available. The sun though was also beginning to lighten the horizon by 0530 so there is a very narrow window to observe this comet. A good telescopic comet it is nowhere near naked eye. Quit easy to find and observe in the big binoculars though.
No one disturbed me at that hour. I did see hunters packing their trucks on the way out to the site at 0430. Coming back, I was lucky enough to see a barred owl at ground level alongside the road in front of the Methodist church at Fentress in my headlights. Traffic was starting to pick up by 6 coming back into VB. Arrived back home as the sky was now light. Venus still shown at 0630 as I unpacked the car. A very successful hunt. I resisted the urge to call Kent at 0500 when I spotted the comet. I know he will be disappointed in not being notified in a timely manner but self preservation won out.