Martin Mc Kenna
Image taken:
Feb. 17, 2009
Maghera, Co. Derry, N. Ireland
Hi Tony I was glad to read your latest update on comet Lulin because it confirmed the mag est I made this morning... Observed comet Lulin before dawn this morning between 05.30 - 06.35 UT. I found it in an instant to the R of centre on an imaginary line between Spica and 51 Virginis using 10x50mm binoculars. The comet was very bright and large with a coma 20' in diameter. The last quarter Moon was visible in Scorpius and despite the lunar glare I was very impressed to see the comet easily with the naked eye with even a hint of green colour. Furthermore I could also see the central condensation without optical aid. I spent alot of time just admiring the comet with direct vision then turned the 8.5" F/7 reflector in its direction. In the wide angle eyepiece the coma was large, circular, and vivid green in colour with a soft edge (D.C: 5). An intense white-coloured central condensation was visible with large diameter. Embedded at centre was a well defined active-looking false nucleus. I seen what I took to be three active jets in the form of fine linear streaks pointing out from the centre for some distance in several directions. Both tails were faint with the anti-tail being the least impressive, or at least it looked that way in weak moonlight. The ion tail was 1 degree long and very broad with intricate structure. The tail itself looked to be split into two linear components with a dark division at centre. Covering over both segments was an impressive array of long streamers which where as long as the tail itself. Before this observation I had considered this comet to be a dud but after this session I'm really reconsidering my impression of it. From a dark country site Lulin should be an easy naked eye object, a view which can only get better at close Earth approach. During the period of observation I noticed sigificant motion of the comet which was impressive. This is all the more notable when there's a bright field star near the coma. My 'guesstimate' is that Lulin may already be mag +5.6 or even brighter. Fujifilm S6500fd 6.3MP at ISO800 30 sec exp.
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