Comet Holmes: A Halloween Treat!

The editors of Sky & Telescope have a longstanding Halloween tradition: if it's clear overhead, we take to the sidewalks! Armed with a bucket of candy and our telescopes, we greet scores of pint-size ghouls and goblins (and their parents) with a double treat: chocolate and a view to the heavens.

Comet Holmes on the night of Oct. 27–28, 2007
All of the comet's features that are visible in the eyepiece of a telescope are captured in this image by Sean Walker. The bright yellow-white coma is dust lit by sunlight; the green halo is fluorescing gas (the green emission is mainly from C2 and CN molecules). Walker used a 108-mm f/4 Faworski astrograph and a Canon 10D camera. This image is a stack of ten 30-second exposures and (to bring out the nucleus) ten 6-second exposures.
S&T: Sean Walker
This year is especially sweet. It's rare to have a naked-eye comet in view, let alone one that's easy to spot. So if you have a clear view to the northeast, just point your scope at Comet Holmes and wow the neighborhood. The comet is a snap to locate using our can't-miss finder charts. And you can always print out customized charts showing Comet Holmes's location using our Interactive Sky Chart.

We've also collected dozens of observing reports about the comet. And don't forget to visit our online gallery to see dozens of images sent in from skygazers around the world.

This Halloween make your house the one that the neighborhood kids remember for years to come!

6 thoughts on “Comet Holmes: A Halloween Treat!

  1. Mieczyslaw Szulc

    This evening at17,45 UTI was observing the comet Holmes in perfect sky condition.In previous days the weather here was absolutely unsituable for any observations because of clouds-stratocumulus and fog.Today when only I saw clear skies I took my 10×50 binoculars and started watching.It was amazing view.I have watched and observed many different comets ,but this one is exeptional diffrent from the previous ones.
    Next, I grabbed my small 63 mm f/5 refractor with 10x, 24x, and finally 32x magnificiations to compare the view with this from binoculars.

    It was strange expirience, above the starry skies with the stranger the comet,around dark early evenig without any noise!

    I wish all around world observers to meet such a nice guest
    as often as possible.

    Mieczyslaw Szulc,Tuchola ,Poland

  2. j5s3d2o@aol.com

    While viewing Holmes Monday evening, I mentally pictured its location as the bottom left naked eye “star” in a triangle. Tonight, I noticed that Holmes had moved a bit to the upper left. It still looks like a big white blob with a pinpoint light in the heart of the nucleus (with my 8-inch Celestron). Apparently Holmes is “coming at the viewer,” and therefore its tail is behind it (relative to the viewer) and thus, not visible. It’s quite a sight! Question: When was this comet discovered? How far out into the solar system does its orbit go?

    Joe S.
    Villa Park, Illinois, USA

  3. Debbie Moran

    I have been showing the neighborhood telescopic views at Halloween for several years now. It has gotten to the point that families say they remember me and search me out every year. Unfortunately, the comet was too low in very murky skies for most of the earlier trick-or-treaters, but some latecomers got a fabulous view. This is indeed one of the more beautiful comets I have seen in my 8-inch F7. It pretty much matched the descriptions I have seen here except that I would say the inner coma’s fan shape was extensive enough to cut the spherical outer coma almost to its edge. Combined with a stellar nucleus and a slight brightening at the outer coma edge, this was a very pretty object. I recommend presenting this as a double header with Phi Cassiopeia to impress your nonastronomer friends. Both of these objects were doable in very light polluted skies with a drop lens cobra streetlight nearby.

  4. madhu thangavelu

    Comet Holmes is putting on a spectacular display and hope you are all watching it.

    We have been lucky to have some very clear seeing conditions here in Palos Verdes, CA(yes, even with all the ash and dust since the fires !- much of it settled after slight showers)

    The coma is spectacular and the beautiful bluish green “fuzzball” seems to have some structure, nucleus is distinctly discernable ….coma seems to be growing by the day, 29, 30, 31st October(9-10pmPST). Yes, it is visible to the naked eye, and quite dramatic through a 10″ f/5 . I was using a 28mm ortho and then switched to 16mm galoc with 2X barlow, no filters.

  5. Mick Homer

    November 1, 2007 12:AM CDST
    I’ve observed this from near San Antonio, Texas the last five beautiful nights. I’m using my 25×100 Skymasters with a good solid Slik 700 DX tripod. I can clearly see the starlike nucleus in the upper right from center of the dust field. Now, looking at the Google Sky and S&T star chart, NGC 1444 appears right where the comet is currently.

    Many are saying this is the nucleus. Help me. Is this very sharp bright object in the comet’s field a star or the nucleus? Also, is the comet heading closer to the Sun, or is it going away from us. I know that the tail always points away from the Sun but it doesn’t tell you what direction the comet is going. Help me?

  6. Terry Swanets

    As an avid amateur, and reader for years, I’ve done
    my best to share this strange comet with all my pals.
    Crosses my sky for a good while, places like Calgary
    and London get the Zenith treatment. Mars is much
    closer to it than we are I suppose. Does NASA have
    capability to capture images from Martian orbit?
    Better chance of seeing a Tail if angle and distance
    is enhanced from there? Regards, keep looking up!
    Terry S.

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