The following is a observing report from 3/23/12:
I have been trying to find the comet Panstarrs 2011 L4 for the last week or so.
Time and the condition of the sky has not cooperated, till last night. I found
the comet just a few degrees above the Horizon at about 7:30 in the evening
using my 10 X 50 Celestron Nature Bincos. I was viewing from my elevated deck
of my back porch. I would estimate it as being 20 degrees toward the North. I
was impressed that the core of the comet was very bright, almost star like.
It's tail seemed to bend a bit to the North as it fanned out. It had a reddish
orange tint which might have been caused by the distortion due to its position
in the sky. In fact, it danced a good bit due to the unsteady sky normally
present at the Horizon. None the less I kept the comet in view till it passed
under the Horizon. It was very nice.
I had previously set out my 8", F6 Orion XTI DOB in the front yard. When I
finished with the comet I went out front and turned that scope toward Jupiter.
At 120X due to the use of my Celestron 10MM X-Cell eyepiece the view was fine.
However when I attempted to up the mag to 200X distortion was the result. The
planet itself maintained a sharp edge, but the details on the planet dimmed as
mag increased. That has been the case all winter with Jupiter. Still I enjoyed
the view as a backed down to 160X provided by my 15MM Meade QC and a Celestron
Next, I ran the xt8i through a tour of March. I picked off a few galaxies such
as M94, M81, and M82. They were not very clear as the slight haze had developed
which spread the moon shine. I was able to slightly off set that light by the
use of my Orion SkyGlow filter.
As my hands began to turn numb I went in.
A few hours later I put out my Orion ED 80MM F7.5 APO for a look at Saturn. The previous
morning at 6:00 I was able to pick it off with that scope. Tonight, at
approximately 12:00 it was just above the horizon. The distortion was pretty
bad, but I stayed with it for about a 1/2 hour and then went inside calling it a
night. I was unable to site the Cassini division nor any other detail except
what appeared to be ring shade on the planet.
In all it was a wonderful night. To quote advice an older amateur astronomer
gave me years ago, "You should not be so concerned about what you cannot see,
but what you can see."