A Most Unusual Comet

Astronomical Society of Kansas CityMy dad and I attended the March 2012 general meeting of the Astronomical Society of Kansas City last night.  We arrived an hour early to attend separate meetings.  Dad sat in on the Astro 101 class.  March’s topic happened to be astrology of all things.  Here’s the blurb from the ASKC’s web site explaining it:

For March, the topic is: Astrology — that’s stargazing, right? So, do you do horoscopes? Say, what’s your sign?” Wha???? Huh???

Sooner or later you, as an amateur astronomer, will run into something like the comments above from a friend, co-worker, relative or casual acquaintance who thoroughly confuses astrology and astronomy. Our own “Madame Ursula” (aka Jackie Beucher) will enlighten us all on the Zodiac, sun signs and what it doesn’t mean. Come join us at the March 24th Astro 101 session.

I attended a brain storming session for the teams responsible for administering the public nights at the Powell Observatory.  Lots of good ideas were presented.

Dad and I reunited just before seven o’clock and chatted briefly with a couple we’ve known for years (and who happen to live in Leavenworth County as well).  We seated ourselves with a couple of minutes to spare.

After some brief comments from the President on the ongoing Messier Marathon down at the dark site and an exercise in democracy (another paper ballot vote on a by-laws change), the Education Director took the stage and presented “April 2012 Sky Events” which actually spanned the next several months.

Transit of Venus (2004 - Wikipedia)

The highlight of his presentation proved to be the once-in-a-lifetime chance to observe the Transit of Venus on June 5th.  I took mental notes, realizing I would need to purchase or engineer a solar filter for my ETX-90 in order to observe the transit.  I only get one shot at this, because the next time this happens, in December 2117, I will be long gone.  This morning, while researching solar filters, I found a helpful web site on safe solar viewing which I wanted to share with all of you.  You don’t need a telescope to observe, but please take precautions (to avoid damaging your eyes) if you plan to observe any solar events (eclipses, sunspots, transits, etc.).

The main event of the March general meeting culminated in a presentation by Fred Bruenjes.  His riveting account of discovering, just last month, Comet/2012 C2 (Bruenjes) impressed all of the audience.  Follow this link for a similar recitation via Fred’s own web site, MoonGlow.net.  Fred plans to continue comet hunting because, in his own words, the one he discovered was ‘defective.’  I disagree.  It wasn’t defective, just unique.  The most unusual feature of his comet is its orbit, which goes in the opposite direction of all the other solar system objects (planets, asteroids and comets).

On the ride home, I regretted leaving my camera and tripod lounging in the band room because I missed a stellar (pardon the pun) opportunity to photograph the crescent moon, Jupiter and Venus.  I will get another chance this evening, when the moon is slightly larger and much closer to Jupiter.  Click here to see my photograph of the three objects taken early Friday evening.

4 thoughts on “A Most Unusual Comet”

  1. I was at that ASKC meeting also. Did you know that Fred is the very first person in the ASKC, or for Missouri for that matter, to discover a comet? I’m the historian for the ASKC so I hope you don’t mind, I’ve saved your story to our history books.

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