Archive for October, 2011

One night at ISON-NM Observatory

New all-sky camera installed at the observatory

ISON-NM Observatory

A new high sensitivity survey camera with a 360 degree field of view has been installed at our observatory. Using it, we plan to conduct observations of meteors, bright comets and studies of bright variable stars. in 60 second exposures the camera can reach 8th magnitude, and thousands of stars are visible on the images. In addition, the camera will be used to observe the weather above the observatory and mapping cloud cover.

Images from the camera will be published here, updating every 5 minutes. At the observatory all the images will be preserved individually in FITS format, which allows for the possibility of future processing.

The cloud of fragments remaining from comet Elenin has been detected

Rolando Ligustri

After many attempts to find any remains of Comet Elenin, they have been located. The first message came from Ernesto Guido, Giovanni Sostero, and Nick Howes. On their images, a small extended cloud with low surface brightness was visible. This cloud is easily seen on Ronald Ligustri’s image which can be seen at left. During the night of October 21-22 at our observatory we also made followup observations of the comet, and the motion of the cloud was confirmed. You can see the animation here. The Moon is leaving, and the comet is climbing higher in the northern sky. I think, in the near future new images will be obtained of this object, once known as Comet Elenin.

Turned to dust


As we know, the first signs of the breakup of the comet were noted in the middle of August by the Australian amateur astronomer Michael Mattiazzo. With each passing day the pseudo-nucleus of the comet became more diffuse and less bright. Michael observed the comet right up to its perihelion and for several days afterwards. It became apparent that the comet was irreparably breaking up, but the question remained – would we see anything on the SOHO images?

SOHO could not see the comet; neither could northern hemisphere observers, where the comet was due to become visible beginning the second week of October. I made one of the first attempts to find the comet on October 6th when it was still very low on the horizon. These observations were made during navigational twilight. I could not say for sure that I had detected the comet, although combining all the images showed a possible object. However, because motion could not be confirmed, we cannot say this was actually the comet.

The second attempt took place three days later, on October 9th. Down to magnitude 19.7, Comet Elenin was not visible in a field of view of 100 x 100 minutes of arc. The next day Ernesto Guido, Giovanni Sostero, and Nick Howes, using the 2-meter Faulkes telescope also got negative results. Their second attempt on October 17th, one day after closest approach of the comet to the Earth, also had negative results – the remains of the comet were not found.

At the moment there is not one confirmed sighting of the comet. Possibly, searches for what remains of the comet will be carried out by more powerful instruments in a few days when they can observe it without the Moon. But one can already say with certainty that the comet has turned to dust…

MPC statistic for September – October 2011

The new monthly MPC circular released – MPC 76269- 76678.

ISON-NM statistic for the previous month (September 7 – October 7):

Number of measurements: 10437

Measured objects: 2596

Discovered objects: 61

Sky coverage: 575 sq. degrees

Observing nights*: 22

* – include partial nights

October 2011
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