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December 26, 2007

Christmas Day 2007

Filed under: Observing — nick @ 4:23 am

25 December 2007

Around 10:00 pm I had few quiet moments. I had spent much of the day cooking (roast beef, pastitsio, roasted potatoes, and stewed green beans) and cleaning up. After dinner I watched It’s a Wonderful Life with my daughters—one of them hadn’t seen it before, and the other one had only seen part of it. They thought it started slow, but in the end they said it was “all right.”

I went outside to take in some fresh air and look around. They sky was pretty clear, but brightly lit by the gibbous moon that outshone even the Christmas decorations that were all around. I could see Mars shining brightly like a orange beacon high overhead. I briefly considered getting out one of the ‘scopes, but then decided I was too tired and it was a too cold. Moreover, if Comet Holmes was still visible, it wouldn’t be able to fit it within the field of view of any combination of eyepiece and tube I had. Instead, I brought out the binoculars for a quick look. I scanned the area around Perseus to determine if I could see any sign of Comet Holmes, but didn’t have any luck, so I decided to wait a few minutes to let my eyes adapt to the dark. I took a look at the Pleiades (also naked-eye visible despite the bright moon), and M42 (a wispy gray ghost in Orion with a few stars embedded in it). After about ten minutes, I searched somewhat more diligently for Holmes, but without any luck. For comparison, I found M31; it was dim in the glare of moonlight, but still (barely) visible. Since I had previously determined that Holmes had a lower surface brightness than M31, it didn’t seem that I would have any luck with Holmes tonight.

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