On a near freezing February night at Roanoke College, I decided to hunt down my first comet using only my handy dandy duct taped Meade 114mm reflector and some good ole fashion star charts. Going out, I quickly realized that this would have to be a fast find due to the cold weather. Not having any winter gloves, I decided that wearing socks on my hands would be the best way to keep warm. Yes that’s right, socks! Imagine what the students walking by must have thought seeing a man wearing long socks on his hands looking through a telescope trying to find a comet (seems kind of strange doesn’t it).
At first, I was unable to finding Lulin and had to go back in to double check the star charts (you’d think I would have thought to print them off, but you can’t expect to much from someone wearing socks for gloves). After 15 to 20 minutes of searching, I finally came upon it, the dim smudge in space that was Comet Lulin. The funny thing about astronomy for me, is that no matter how faint and unspectacular an object is, finding something by only using star charts makes the discovery seem so much more amazing. I called Lauren who came out and said something to the effect of “wow nice blur, see you inside”.
Using star charts for the first time to find an object really made me more appreciative of what I had found, even it was just a gray blur in space. This was the first comet I had viewed since Hale Bop back in 1997, when I was 10. I vaguely remember observing it with some some neighbors who came by to view it through my 70mm refractor telescope. Even though the weather was cold and my hands were numb, taking the time to hunt down Lulin made for an exciting evening that helped to get me back into Astronomy, which I am enjoying immensely now!
Star Log: February 25, 2009