Bolton Astronomical Society

Comet C/2017 T1 (Heinze)
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Author:  rwilkinson [ Fri Dec 22, 2017 11:31 am ]
Post subject:  Comet C/2017 T1 (Heinze)

This object was discovered from Hawaii in October, when it was originally thought to be an asteroid. But further study by astronomer Ari Heinze proved that it's a comet.
It will pass around 20 million miles from Earth on January 4th, on its way to perihelion on February 21st. It's not going to be very bright (around 8th magnitude), but should still be visible in our telescopes.

I first detected it from New Mexico a couple of weeks ago:
File comment: Comet Heinze on 12-Dec. 2x 170-sec with 250mm f/3.4 reflector.
c2017t1_12dec.png [ 160.97 KiB | Viewed 1808 times ]

But it's brightening rapidly, as can be seen from these more recent images which I got from the COAST facility on Tenerife:
File comment: Comet Heinze on 21-Dec. 3x 150-sec with C14 at f/10.
c2017t1_21dec.png [ 213.82 KiB | Viewed 1808 times ]

And it's so fast-moving that it shows trailing even over 150 seconds, so on the following morning I halved the exposure-time:
File comment: Comet Heinze on 22-Dec. 4x 75-sec with C14 at f/10.
c2017t1_22dec.png [ 178.12 KiB | Viewed 1808 times ]

It's an early-morning object at the moment, but is moving very quickly across the sky, so it will be visible all night in the first half of January.

Author:  rwilkinson [ Thu Dec 28, 2017 11:18 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Comet C/2017 T1 (Heinze)

This comet is moving North rapidly: last night it was in Cancer, heading towards Gemini.
I saw that it had risen above the trees soon after 9pm, so I did an imaging run when I'd finished with C/2016 R2.
It was moving so quickly that I had to shorten my exposures to 60-sec to reduce the trailing.
File comment: Comet Heinze on 27-Dec. 65x 60-sec with MX716 on C8 at f/3.3.
c2017t1_27dec.png [ 119.79 KiB | Viewed 1773 times ]

It crossed most of my field of view within 70 minutes, as this animation shows:

Author:  rwilkinson [ Sun Jan 07, 2018 8:29 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Comet C/2017 T1 (Heinze)

Now this comet is tracking very quickly across the sky.
When I caught it last night on the border of Cassiopeia, it was even trailing on 1-min exposures:
File comment: Comet Heinze on 6-Jan 21x 60-sec with Mx716 on C8 at f/3.
c2017t1_6jan.png [ 94.05 KiB | Viewed 1694 times ]

The gap in the dotted star-trails is due to a strand of cloud which came over for a couple of minutes.

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