Copyright 2009 Starry Mirror
Astronomy From West Virginia
COMET CARDINAL, LOW IN THE WEST AFTER SUNSET - APRIL 16, 2009
BRIDGEPORT, WV (S-M) - Comet Cardinal, C/2008 T2, is passing through Auriga this April of 2009, and we had our first glimpse of the comet on the evening of April 11. Anyone who wants to see the comet should look soon, as it is soon to be lost in the twilight glare as it sinks lower in the West each evening.
The comet is a very diffuse object of about magnitude 12, and is hard to see from suburban skies. Although we usually like to post a visual depiction of any comets observed from our little observatory, in the case of Cardinal it would be hard to depict its ghostly, diffuse nature. The comet has a distinctly silver color, and is like a tiny, oblong cloud just a few arc minutes long. It took a star chart with stars down to magnitude 13, and with a plot of the object's exact position, to find the comet. It is moving fast enough through the sky that its motion can be seen after just an hour or so.
Comet Cardinal was discovered on October 1, 2008 by Rob Cardinal of the University of Calgary. It was discovered on images taken with a large 1-meter telescope involved in an asteroid survey. The comet will reach its closest approach to the Sun in early June, when it will be around 110 million miles from the Sun, and about 160 million miles from our Earth. By then, it will be in the morning sky and will be in Canis Minor. The comet is expected to be barely visible in large binoculars, though our own observations suggest that it is running well behind expectations. - GW