Comet 24-24


C/2001 Q4 NEAT on May 17th 2004 at 23.18 LT through the 16" F/4.5 reflector at 57X. Observed in bright evening twilight in a hazy pre summer sky with terrible transparency, only a misty patch of light was visible so I started comet hunting through the western sky during which the conditions really started to improve as weak darkness slowly crept in and after 34 minutes of hunting I returned back to the comet located in Cancer north of M44 - what a transformation! The coma was green, large, bright, moderately condensed with a soft disk like central condensation and soft star like false nucleus.

I watched as the coma swallowed up a bright field star to its north - it had very obvious rapid motion and was a striking green colour which was more distinct in binoculars. The tail was green, very wide, fan shaped and seemed to broaden with distance away from the coma with a pronounced curve as it left the coma which was most striking on the tails north side. This was my best view of Q4 Neat and just three days after perihelion. CCD images showed not 1 but 3 tails!