The new Machholz comet is seen here on Nov. 9 slowly crossing the constellation Virgo in the early hours before dawn. Jean-Francois Soulier
Arizona amateur Don Machholz bagged his 12th visual comet discovery on the morning of Nov. 7. These days, most comets are found by robotic survey telescopes that scan the sky all night long looking for anything that moves. For an amateur to spot one the old-fashioned way with a telescope in their front yard is an incredible feat. Machholz logged 746 hours of searching since his last visual comet discovery in 2010. That’s dedication.
Comet champ Don Machholz stands at his 18″ reflector telescope. AnneLouise Machholz
The new comet, yet to be formally named, bears two temporary designations: TCP J12192806-0211143 and DM001. When first discovered, it was estimated at about magnitude 10, bright enough to pick up in a 6-inch or larger telescope. But it appears to be getting brighter quickly. I spotted it Saturday morning just before the start of dawn at around magnitude 9 in my 10-inch scope. Others are already seeing in larger binoculars from dark skies and putting it closer to 8th magnitude. Exciting!
I saw it with ease with a magnification of ...