Last night provided the best viewing conditions so far for comet 17/P Holmes and it certainly didn't disappoint. Being so high up in the sky, the comet shows more detail than it would if at lower altitudes, plus the weather conditions were ideal. The atmosphere was quite clear, especially later in the night. However, viewing remained moderate with plenty of air fluctuations. I viewed the comet in both my Celestron NexStar 11-inch SCT and my 25x100 binoculars and can say without hesitation that the binoculars were the better instrument to use for this object. Holmes filled two thirds of the view through my telescope using a wide 32mm erfle, but the contrast was much lower than in the 25x100 binoculars, and despite the increased magnification, the telescope's field of view was just too small for such a big object!
I enjoyed fantastic views with my 25x100s, which really are the ideal instrument for comet watching. I recently invested in a professional video tripod (Manfrotto, with professional head) and found viewing with the binoculars much more comfortable than before because the new tripod extends to huge heights, allowing me to get "under" the binoculars comfortably.
I estimate the comet to have an overall concentrated magnitude of around 2. Although it presents as a disc, almost like a halo, Comet 17/P Holmes' circular coma has a noticeable break on the right hand side, and the only instrument with which I could detect even the faintest hint of a tail was the 25x100s.
I gave up at around 23.00UT because the comet was simply too high up in the sky for the binoculars!
Mars is presenting a good bright disc, situated as it is in Gemini. I took a quick look at M35 which is a very rich open cluster beside Castor's foot in Gemini. The Pleiades were beautiful in the 25x100s while I took the NexStar 11GPS over to M32 to have a look at the faint central area.
Creator and Curator,