Comet Holmes makes a surprising appearance

A few days ago Comet Holmes was a dim blip in the night sky, registering a paltry magnitude 18 invisible to the naked eye. However, on October 24 this object suddenly brightened considerably to a 2.8 magnitude, easily visible in the constellation Perseus.

This is not the first time Comet Holmes, aka 17P, has pulled this mysterious brightening act. Back in November 1892 its sudden brightening helped amateur astronomer Edwin Holmes discover it.

Experts expect Comet Holmes to remain bright for the next several nights. Look for it to grow from a star-like point to a more familiar comet shape as it moves slowly westward across Perseus. (Just look under his sword elbow as seen in our Perseus illustration.)

(For astronomy buffs, that should be right ascension 3h 53m, declination +50.1 degrees.)