Comet 23-23


C/2001 Q4 NEAT on May 14th 2004 at 23.43LT through the 16" F/4.5 reflector. The comet was a naked eye magnitude 3.7 object with a coma diameter of 20' and a tail over 50' long pointing to the NE through broken cloud. It was located in Cancer below the 'Beehive Cluster' (M44) low in the SW evening twilight at 71 degrees elongation from the sun. Overall the comet was a slight green colour with a broad fan shaped dust tail.

The rapidly rotating Earth placed the comet behind a tall tree in my back garden so I had to observe it through the gaps in the branches causing the comet to fade then brighten as it passed natures foreground obstructions in the telescopic field of view. Conor was also with me during this observing session who tracked the comet using my 8" S.Cass - this was his first bright comet. Later Q4 NEAT dropped from view and joined T7 LINEAR - a situation that provided southern hemisphere observers with two naked eye comets!