I had read that Comet Holmes had brightened dramatically, but I am suspicious of the word “dramatic” when used by astronomers. The events they describe are undoubtedly dramatic, but the images they describe are often tiny smudges even when observed through a big fancy-pants telescope. So I was pleased tonight when I finally had a good chance to look for the comet (having just been lashed by the coattails of Hurricane Noel), and wow! it just about hit me in the eye.
If you haven’t seen it already, I am here to tell you that it’s, well… it’s a smudge. But it’s pretty dramatic as smudges go: a big fuzzy ball and perfectly visible to the naked eye in a big metropolitan area. If you want to find it, Sky and Telescope has a growing site about it, as well as a finder map to help you locate it. If you already know where Mr. Perseus lives, just look up and you can’t miss the tennis ball that’s falling past his right shoulder.