C/2004 Q2 (Machholz) – JAN 1, 2005

Observation Notes:
Tonight, in my 10 X 50 binoculars, Machholz was starting to show a longer dust tail. I took some pictures during breaks in the passing clouds. This is a stack of 11 images ranging in exposure from 2 to 6 minutes. Exposures are with the Canon Digital Rebel at a focal length of 105 mm, ISO 800, f/11.

North is roughly up. The bright, bluish star at upper left is Lambda Tauri. You can see the ion tail reaching east-northeast, right up to that star…which would put its length in the image at about 3.2 degrees. It looks like there are 2 or 3 streamers in the ion tail closest to the comet. The dust tail is pointing south-southwest and looks to be a little less than a third that length–so about a degree long. That tail definitely showed up as a longer streak in the binoculars than a couple nights ago when it looked more like an elongation of the coma.
By the way, if you use averted vision on that image, it works just like at the eyepiece. Pretty cool.
The police showed up during my imaging. It seems I freaked out the neighbors diagonally across the street. They heard a ‘commotion’, saw somebody meandering around, and the flickerings of a creepy red flashlight to top it off. I had to run in and grab my drivers license to show the officer. The neighbor showed up and we all talked about how good it is to have neighbors that are concerned about each other, and when the next snow is coming, and what th’ heck I was looking at, while the report got filled out. The cop said he liked these sort of calls–as opposed to the ugly ones I guess. But hmyeah, I guess it’s time to knock on a few doors and forewarn my neighborlies that I might be found lurking in the front yard on clear to semi-clear nights. …ooh, or maybe I can make an “Astronomer At Large” sign that I can stab into the lawn whenever I’m out observing. 😀

Subject Comet Machholz (C/2004 Q2)
Classification Comet
Position [RA 3:49 / Dec +11:11]
Size Ion Tail: 3°12′ / Dust Tail: 1° / Coma: 35′
Brightness ~4
Date/Time 1/1/05 – 7:30 – 9:00 PM
Observing Loc. Flagstaff, AZ – Home
Instrument Orion Worldview Binoculars 10 x 50, Canon Digital Rebel @ 150 mm, ISO 800, f/11
Eyepieces/Mag. 10X
Seeing ~4/10
Transparency Mag 5.8