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Comet Not So Cool, but Best Nature Can Do for Now

January 14, 2005

THE next week will be the last chance to spotthe comet Machholz with the naked eye just to thewest of the Pleiades Cluster, also called the SevenSisters. From nightfall to sunrise it should be visiblein dark, rural areas, but it’s not as bright as some ofthe stars and may be difficult to see. Binoculars or alow-powered telescope should help.It’s not as spectacular as the flashy Hale-Bopp orthe recurring Haley’s were, but it should look like afuzzy white patch.The comet is named after Donald Machholz, anoptician and backyard astronomer from Californiawho discovered it in late August, before it wasdetected in astronomical observatories. The discoveryis no coincidence, however; according toSpace.com, it’s the 10th Machholz has found in 27years, and since 1994 he has spent 1,457 hours withhis eye in a telescope looking for comets.

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