I had hoped that the darker skies near San Simeon on the central California coast would have made it easier to spot Comet Lulin, but no such luck. First the clouds rolled in around sunset. I checked around 9:45 and they’d cleared enough to see very clearly out toward the ocean, but the lights of town were directly below Leo, so I drove down the highway a few miles to a scenic viewpoint with a wide parking area, stopped the car, and tried not to let passing traffic ruin my dark adaptation.
Once again, no luck spotting the comet (though I’ve at least determined that the bright spot next to Saturn was just a star), but an excellent view of the stars. And I spotted 4 or 5 meteors during the ~30 minutes I was out there, all in the direction of Orion and Canis Major. (One of them, maddeningly, flashed by just moments before one of my photos started.)
I did manage to catch an airplane as it transited in front of Canis Major and Orion, shown in this photo. (I should have called it a UFO.) And the view was far better than any night sky in suburbia, so the side trip was absolutely worth it!
[…] was ideal viewing time for Comet Lulin. After trying to spot it from the hotel grounds, I finally drove out of town a few miles for stargazing. It was a fantastic view, but the comet was too faint for me to […]