Comet 37-37


2P/ Encke on November 15th 2003 at 19.00 LT in the 16" F/4.5 reflector at 57X. The comet was a beautiful diffuse (D.C 2) green, large (19') object with no tail at mag 7.1 located high in the south within Cygnus at 91 degrees elongation from the sun. Although the comet was bright it was a very difficult object to find due to its delicate diffuse nature. I had been trying on nine different nights to find the comet without success however on this tenth evening the sky was excellent, the best I have ever seen it yet. I did one hour of comet hunting then started a vertical sweep for Encke through Cygnus when I encountered the Veil Nebula for the first time which was a breath taking sight! - soon afterward I found Encke which was the absolute highlight of my evening! This is the 2nd return of Encke which I have observed and it has always been one of my favourite comets. More about my first sighting now...

The night of August 28/29th was dark and clear. With my 8" S.Cass I was in the process of an all night session spanning 6 hours of comet hunting. As I swept through the eastern pre dawn sky a terrible dense mist descended which covered the entire sky except for one clear long strip near the N and NE horizon. I searched through this strip then ended my session for the night. I lifted the telescope and was about to return it to its resting den within the garage when I spotted a good clear section in the sky where Leo and Cancer where rising within the VERY bright morning twilight close to the sun. I thought that since I have been out all night it would do no harm to search this region and so I did....10 seconds later I found a bright comet!!! It was a marvelous sight and I felt a strong rush of adrenaline pumping through me causing my body to shake, I sketched the comet but dawn rendered it invisible within 10 minutes. I checked one of the astronomy magazines I had and found out it was comet Encke however far from being disappointed I was thrilled beyond words, I did make an independent discovery of a comet that morning even though it was a known comet. I felt like I had experienced a taste of what it must be like to discover a new comet! Despite all the amazing things I have witnessed in the sky this one event remains for me the most exciting thrill and surge of emotions I have ever experienced in astronomy! Encke is now a welcome friend for me and I look forward to meeting him again in the near future.