Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Comet Viewing Helpers

I haven't seen it myself yet, but Comet 17P/Holmes has gotten bright enough to see with the unaided eye, and I'm hoping we can see it through telescopes at a Saturday night star party that Aldrich Astronomical Society is doing with a scouting group.

I also have an indoor event Friday evening at the Hopkinton Public Library which they have titled "Explore Space Without Leaving Home" (PDF). It will be my typical web site/Stellarium/Orbiter computer space/astronomy show, customized as I always do for current events in space. For this week, those will of course include the shuttle/ISS mission (STS-120) and Comet 17P/Holmes.

I wanted to add the comet to the solar system in Stellarium to make it easy to explain where it is in the night sky. A quick Google search for "stellarium adding objects" gave me exactly what I needed for the PC version of Stellarium (Mac is a little more complicated since the files are hidden, but see here). Note that if you zoom in, you will see a default moon-like texture, not a comet image. You can add bitmap objects to Stellarium too, but I don't have time to track that down now! has good information on the comet including a photo gallery. There's a simple star chart showing the comet's location here.

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