I went to IRWS this evening, mainly to try to see the comet, but also to participate in some public outreach because I can rarely make it to our star parties during the week. There was a presentation there last night, but the observing component was bumped to tonight because of cloudy weather. About 7 or 8 scopes and 2 mounted big binos were there, including my XT8 and mounted 15×70’s. Old friends and former NSAAC’ers Jim Koerth and Mike Deneen were there, as well as quite a few NSAAC members. I’m bad at estimating crowds, but I’d guess close to 40 guests showed up, maybe more. The Audubon members are very enthusiastic as well as fairly knowledgeable.
While waiting for the comet, we shared views of the crescent moon and Jupiter with all four Galilean moons present and accounted for. When it got dark enough, the conjunction of the moon, Jupiter and Aldebaran was very nice. I scanned for the comet in my 15×70 in the early dusk with no luck. Turns out I was looking way to low on the horizon… I would have found it earlier but was not expecting it so high. We finally found it and it was stunning. The views were really beautiful, and I was able to get it in both my 15×70’s and the XT8. I didn’t do much detailed viewing, mostly lining it up for the general public, but it was a very bright nucleus/coma with a rather wide and very noticeable tail extending straight up towards the zenith. We observed it for at least 40 minutes before it got below the trees in the west. We also shared views of M42, the Pleiades, and Mizar and Alcor, and I finished w/ a great view of M81/82 in Mike Deneen’s SCT w/ a 31 Nagler.
The public was really thrilled to see the comet and view it in multiple instruments, as well as the other highlights. It was my first chance to get out and see the comet and I had a blast. Also enjoyed a nice surprise satellite fly-by in the eyepiece while viewing the Pleiades in my XT8 w/ a 24.5 Meade Super-Wide. Fun night.