COMETS, ME & MYSELF...
A statistical analysis of my comets observed (as of time of this writing in July 2010), summarized in the following link:
1) Total Comets Observed = 32 + 2
i) Self / Amateur equipment - 31
ii) Other (Kavalur 40-inch) - 1
iii) Additional observations - 2
(Hale-Bopp and Ikeya-Zhang) (not counted in my list as core comets)
[Also sketched nearly half of them]
2) Equipments used till now
i) Binoculars - 10x50, 25x100, 7x50
ii) Telescopes - 8", 12", 17.5", 6" (only once)
3) i) Total periodic - 14
ii) Total non-periodic - 18
(excluding the 2 not counted ones)
iii) Years in Comet observing (as of July 2010) - 6.5 - since 2004
[# per year - 2004 - 3 / 2006 - 6 / 2007 - 4 / 2008 - 9 / 2009 - 7 / 2010 - 3]
4) Approximately comets missed and / or attempted in observing career
-- Approximately 20-25 (!) (have been subjected to boundless trials, struggle & sacrifices)
5) First comet (unsuccessfully) attempted
-- 2/P Encke - 25th October 2003
(beautiful rendezvous with Andromeda galaxy)
6) Maximum comets unsuccessfully 'attempted' in one night
-- Four - 12th Feb 2005
7) First comet observed
-- C/2002 T7 (LINEAR) @ 17th Jan 2004
(very challenging, for a complete newbie observer to track a 7th mag comet with only a 7x50 binocular!)
8) Best comet occasions
i) 4/P Faye @ 1 am. On 17th Oct 2006; my Birthday! A new comet observed, very memorable.
ii) 217/P LINEAR, exactly 3 years later on yet another Birthday. A new comet observed...Divine coincidence!
9) Favorite comet observed
-- Should be the 9th mag 4/P Faye only, for the memorable occasion. Very beautiful, displaying a tiny visual tail extending from coma.
10) Best comet sighting
i) C/2007 N3 Lulin through 25x100 handheld (simply breath-taking from skies of Chikmaglur, Western Ghats. The tail extended to more than 2-degrees out of binoc f.o.v!)
ii) 17/P Holmes through 10x50 (simply stupendous parabolic shaped very bright coma)
11) Only doubtful observation in my list
-- P/2006 T1 Levy
(extremely faint, that too zodiacal light intervened in the dawn eastern sky)
12) Most easiest observation
-- 17/P Holmes (2.5 mag!)
(as a fuzzy star naked-eyes immediately above a bright -15 mag Sodium vapur lamp!)
13) Most difficult observation
-- 22/P Kopff (~13th mag)
(Excessively faint even with a 17.5" ..Even my observing partner Akarsh with ISO 7200 equivalent eyes had a hard time confirming the very diffuse coma!)
14) Most sought-after (not practically) comet
-- 29/P Schwassmann-Wachmann-1, and its frequent outbursts
15) Maximum observations of one comet
-- 73/P Schwassmann Wachmann-3
(During it's fragmentation days, observed for 7 of 14 days in May 2006 from a dark site! Many other times around that period)
16) Maximum new comets observed on any night - 2 new comets on 2 different nights
i) Session dubbed as "Hand of God @ eyepiece session - 10th April 2008"
ii) My 29th & 30th comet from Coorg - December 2009
17) Comet observed in any rendezvous with another DSO
-- C/2009 K5 McNaught with globular cluster NCG 6760 (same field of view)
18) Favorite comet missed
-- C/2004 F4 Bradfield
(evening-twilight long tailed one in mid-2004) (was "bored" to go out and observe it from terrace!) (an image here. more images can be found here )
19) Memorable rendezvous
-- 2/P Encke + Andromeda galaxy (missed observing. an image here )
20) Next periodic expected
-- 2/P Encke - August 2010
21) Periodic comet returned maximum times in my observing career
-- Three - 2/P Encke (Oct 2003, April 2007 & August 2010)
22) Earliest sighting before reaching perihelion
i) C/2006 W3 Christensen - 31st October 2008 (9 months before perihelion in July 2009)
ii) C/2007 N3 Lulin - 4th September 2008 (5 months before it made news during peak brightness in Feb 2009)
23) Memorable comet misses (in order of intensity)
-- C/2007 F1 LONEOS, 2/P Encke, 96/P Machholz-1, more...
24) Any other highlight of life:
-- Missed the visual 2006 discovery of Comet P/2006 T1 (Levy) near Saturn itself! We were out observing the same day 2nd October 2006 and did give a glimpse at the Ringed-planet, but sadly...!! :-(
25) Unprecedented attempt at any comet
i) (Unsuccessful attempt) trying to observe the Tail of the Daylight comet of 2006; C/2006 P1 McNaught above horizon, when the comet itself was below the horizon!
ii) Meteor showers predicted from the fragmented visible comet 73/P SW-3. We did spot a couple meteors on this rare event in summer 2006!
26) Unprecedented Antic
-- Scanning a 10x50 binocular for ~10 seconds in hunt for "Eclipse Comets" during the Total Solar Eclipse - 2009, neglecting the glory of the totality from the best location in India; Varanasi !!!
MOVING ON FROM STASTICS TO ABSTRACTISM
1) Strongest turn-on / Intuition
-- [And I am at no words with this] My 25x100 IF Oberwerk preying on an evening twilight sky, hoarding a faint tailed binocular comet!
2) Dream comet-type to observe
-- Not sure, quite a few. Something like the Daylight comet of 1882 transit over the Sun's surface!
3) Ultimate desire
-- Indeed a periodic gift like P/2011 Amar (even though last name Sharma would be attributed, and not the first name Amar)
4) Renewed source of cometary inspiration
i) Self-spirit to keep going & love for comets
ii) International comet amateurs
5) Compilation work
-- Preparing the most comprehensive treatise on the web on the only comet discovery by an Indian, by Prof M.K.V.Bappu - C/1949 N1 (Bappu-Newkirk-Bok)
( http://www.bas.org.in/Home/blog/amaruniverse/2009/23/03/treatise-vainu-bappus-comet )
6) Few accolades
i) Astronomical League's Silver comet certificate & pin
ii) Dr. Alan Hale's "Countdown to 500 comets"
( http://www.earthriseinstitute.org/com_awards.html )
( http://www.earthriseinstitute.org/comobservers.html )
( http://www.earthriseinstitute.org/com_ment.html )
7) Life's goal
-- Amateur / professional career in comets
-- Love & live chasing every elusive heavenly visitor (even under clouds!), every now, then, and forever :-)