October 30, 2007
But is it lovable? One week ago, an otherwise ordinary comet named Holmes suddenly became much brighter, and I can confirm that it is visible with the naked eye. As reported by space.com, "But sometime late last Tuesday, Oct. 23, this comet underwent an explosive outburst and within just 24 hours increased its brightness almost a million-fold." That Web page includes a link to a star map to help in locating it. Comet Holmes can presently be found just southeast of the familiar "W"-shaped constellation Cassiopeia. As seen from Virginia at 8:00 PM, it is fairly close to the ground, so trees or buildings may obscure it unless you go out into a field. You will need binoculars to see how clearly it stands out from the sharp pinpoints of lights that are the stars, and then you will appreciate how special it really is.