On Sunday morning, clears skies invited a glimpse of Comet Catalina after several cloudy nights, even snow flurries. But as the comet emerged above the sky glow from the lights of Boone, dawn was fast approaching and the comet was viewable for minutes in the sliver of dark sky.
The comet was about half way between bright stars, Arcturus and Spica (near Mars). Look east before dawn with binoculars for this timely visitor (finder chart below). It has recently emerged from around the Sun and will be brightening through the mornings ahead into the New Year.
Astronomy Cafe explains, “The reason you get two tails is because the cometary ionized and neutral gases go one way in space because they are effected by the magnetic fields and gases in the solar wind. The dust however, is less sensitive to the solar wind and continues to go its own way. Generally, the dust tails follow along the orbit of the comet, and the gas tail follows in the direction of the outgoing solar wind at that location.”
For more photos by Todd Bush, click to www.bushphoto.com.