Have You Seen Comet Boattini?

A week after perihelion, Comet C/2007 W1 Boattini should now be visible in the dawn sky by observers in the Northern Hemisphere. Preliminary results on Seiichi Yoshida's website indicate that it's now roughly magnitude 5.5 — still near its peak brightness.

Comet Boattini climbs into the Northern Hemisphere's morning sky during July and August 2008. Click above to download a detailed printable chart in PDF format.
Illustration
On July 4th, Comet Boattini is just 6° above the eastern horizon 90 minutes before sunrise at latitude 40° north. That's too low for easy viewing, and the sky is already beginning to get bright even then. But the comet appears roughly 2° higher on each succeeding morning, and the Moon doesn't start to interfere until July 16th. Meanwhile, the comet is likely to fade as shown on Yoshida's website, becoming a faint telescopic target by August.

So early July is the best time for northerners to see this comet — assuming that your're fanatical enough to get up at 3 or 4 a.m. Few people are likely to see the comet without optical aid, but it should be pretty easy to spot through binoculars as long as your light pollution isn't too bad. Click here to download a detailed chart. We eagerly await our first post-perihelion reader reports.

14 thoughts on “Have You Seen Comet Boattini?

  1. That person who keeps asking if it is in Seattle

    Can you see it in Venice? And Seattle after July 18? I’m going to Venice tomorrow, right now I’m in Sicily.

  2. Tony Flanders

    > Can you see it in Venice? And Seattle after July 18?

    If you type “Venice latitude” and “Seattle latitude” into your favorite Internet search engine, you’ll find out that Venice is at latitude 45N and Seattle at 48N, both rounded to the nearest degree. Both are close enough to our standard latitude of 40N that you can assume that any statement in S&T about “mid-northern latitudes” or “Northern Hemisphere” applies to you too.

    TO be more specific, I stated that the comet would be 6° above the horizon 90 minutes before sunrise on July 4th at latitude 40N. At 48N, the comet will be significantly lower — just 1° above the horizon. So you’ll have to wait an extra 2 or 3 days before it gets to a comparable alitude.

  3. Melanie

    I have never seen a comet before, but this looks like a good opportunity. I have a few questions.
    What should it look like through binoculars?
    Will it be visible from the city? Because I live in the city and I don’t think I can get to the country that early in the morning, and I’m too young to drive.
    It says that I could see it if my light pollution isn’t too bad, but I still have some doubts.

  4. Tony Flanders

    > I have never seen a comet before, but this looks like a good opportunity. I have a few questions. What should it look like through binoculars? Will it be visible from the city?

    If you’ve never seen a comet before and you live in a city, I wouldn’t recommend starting with this one. All cities have pretty severe light pollution, and this comet isn’t nearly as bright as the famous ones like Hale-Bopp or McNaught.

    But if you don’t mind getting up really early, it certainly can’t hurt to try. Look for a small, vague, very faint, pretty much circular patch of light a little smaller than the full Moon.

  5. William Ruscher

    Hi Tony,
    I’m quoting your description of the comet because it is right on, from what I just saw in my Canon 15X45 binoculars at around 4 AM this morning… with the exeption of Yoshida’s website estimated magnitude. I would say it was more like mag. 6.5 to 7, than mag 5.5. It was really not all that easy to locate for me, at first. Good dark adaption away from any stray light was essential. It was worth getting up to get a look at it !
    “Look for a small, vague, very faint, pretty much circular patch of light a little smaller than the full Moon”

    Regards,

    Bill

  6. William Ruscher

    Hi Again,

    Sorry, I forgot to mention in my last post that my location of the observation was from suburban Rochester, NY.

    Bill

  7. NS

    I’m pretty sure I spotted the comet, using 8X42 binoculars near Honolulu around 4:30 AM local time. It looked like a small fuzzy object, not quite circular though.

    I was a little careless with my preparations — I had the finder chart showing Taurus and Cetus but not an overall sky chart. Unfortunately the sky here is fairly light-polluted and I had trouble getting oriented. A quick run back in the house to dig out my Skywatch 2008 solved the problem. Using the December sky chart with the Pleiades as a reference I found the right area, and then (I believe) the comet. The sky was already starting to lighten a little so I didn’t observe for long. I may try again tomorrow.

  8. Bill Greer

    Comet C/2007 W1 Boattini was easily visible with 8×42 and 20×80 binoculars near the beginning of morning twilight on 12 July 2008 U.T. (9:40 U.T. or 3:40am local time) from a rural Montana location that has a typical Naked Eye Limiting Magnitude (NELM) of 6.5.

    In handheld 20x80s the comet looked exactly like a large, bright, unresolved globular star cluster. It had a circular appearance with a gradually brighter center. The view with the 8x42s was similar, but of course the comet appeared a bit smaller and fainter.

    After the binocular observations, in the brightening twilight, an unsuccessful attempt was made to see the comet with the naked eye.

    A thin haze from distant fires (mostly from Canada from I’ve heard) was blown out of my area on the previous day by moderately strong winds that blew throughout the day. This left me with a highly transparent sky – just in time for Comet Boattini!

  9. Glen Cozens

    I saw this comet from latitude 29 south (North of Casino, NSW) with a 12″ Dobsonian telescope at 5am local time on July 10 (7/9, 20UT). The comet was not naked eye but was easy to see in my 8×50 finder. I detected a very faint tail more than 40′ long by moving back and forth across the tail using a 13mm eyepiece that magnifies 115 times and has a 40′ field. It was a windy night with great transparency and dark rural skies.

  10. Hannah

    I finally saw it on the early morning of the 17th, approx. 5am. I used my cheapo starfinder to orient myself, and finally saw it after several mornings waiting for it to ascend high enough, as I live on the western side of a ridge in Eugene, OR. My binocs are only 10×50, so it was just a fuzzball hovering there above Cetus. I wish I lived out of town a little further, but I’m pleased to have finally seen it with my nonexistent knowledge of astronomy, my cheesy starfinder and my email from Sky and Telescope! The last comet I saw was from right in town here: the magnificent Hyakutake!

  11. Hannah

    I finally saw it on the early morning of the 17th, approx. 5am. I used my cheapo starfinder to orient myself, and finally saw it after several mornings waiting for it to ascend high enough, as I live on the western side of a ridge in Eugene, OR. My binocs are only 10×50, so it was just a fuzzball hovering there above Cetus. I wish I lived out of town a little further, but I’m pleased to have finally seen it with my nonexistent knowledge of astronomy, my cheesy starfinder and my email from Sky and Telescope! The last comet I saw was from right in town here: the magnificent Hyakutake!

  12. eduardo casarin

    please could anybody tell me if I could see the comet from my location Cabo San Lucas Mexico 22 degress n 110 west
    Thanks

  13. eduardo casarin

    please could anybody tell me if I could see the comet from my location Cabo San Lucas Mexico 22 degress n 110 west
    Thanks

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