Last updated 2017 April 11


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The purpose of this BAA Comet Section ( guide is to help amateur astronomers, of all ability levels, to develop their observational skills by observing comets visually using binoculars and telescopes, by imaging and by searching images returned by spacecraft such as SOHO and STEREO. It would seem appropriate to name it ‘Project Alcock’ after the UK’s foremost comet discoverer – George Alcock.

The chances of discovering any new celestial object are small but ultimately worth pursuing. There are many aspects to comet observation all of which will eventually form part of this guide i.e.

- locating and observing known comets

- monitoring specific comets e.g. splitting, in outburst

- follow-up observations of newly discovered comets

- finding comets masquerading as asteroids or NEOs

- recovering returning periodic comets

- discovering comets

- on-line image analysis

- participation in pro-am projects


Please contact me, roger.dymock  ‘at’, if you would like me to come and talk to your local astronomical society or if there are any aspects of comet observing and imaging you would like more information on or added to this website.


Megaphone  Sierra Stars Observatory Network (SSON) 


Please note that the Sierra Stars 0.61m telescope has been discontinued. The Gemini and Warrumbungle 0.51m telescopes are still accessible via the SSON website. Some pages on this website will therefore need to be rewritten. The announcement by Rich Williams (abbreviated here) on 2016 February 15th states;


‘This year SSON celebrates our 10-year anniversary. During the past decade, we’ve provided hundreds of thousands of images to our users. We appreciate your use and support of our observatories and services. The telescope is being decommissioned starting this week .


The SSO telescope will be disassembled, crated and shipped to OMI in Iowa City, IA where James Mulherin and his team will remove the aluminum coating and recoat the mirrors. It’s been over a decade since the mirrors were aluminized. Also, they will completely refurbish the telescope to bring it up to the standards of a new telescope. I will sell the telescope and hope it goes to a person or group that will make great use of it. If you are interested in buying the telescope, make me an offer and we can discuss it. A new OMI 0.6-meter Cassegrain like my telescope would cost more than $200,000. I’m willing to consider all reasonable offers. I suggest that you investigate what comparable new telescopes sold by competing companies cost and start from there. As part of the sale we would build a new base custom made for your observatory latitude. I would also help oversee the installation, calibration, and train you on the control system and operation for the travel costs to your site. Finally, you would be welcome to join SSON as a partner scheduling SSON jobs in addition to your own projects and generate extra income to use as you see fit.


I will also sell the FLI Proline CCD camera and 7-filter filter wheel with the current filter set including the Transmission Grating Spectrograph (TGS) filters. The replacement cost of this equipment new would be about $15,000. Again I would be willing to negotiate a reasonable offer/price for the setup and/or include it with the sale of the telescope.


SSON will continue to operations with the Gemini Telescope in Arizona and the Warrumbungle Telescope in Australia. Peter Star (Warrumbungle Observatory owner) is working to add another telescope in Australia to SSON. I am also in discussion with others about their interest in partnering with SSON. I will continue to manage and SSON and be accessible to you as always’.     


Finding your way


This flowchart links many of the pages together in some semblance of order and may help you to find your way around this website.






CCD imaging


Cometary Archive for Afrho (CARA) method of astrometry and photometry


CCD Astrometry and Photometry of comets using comphot


CCD astrometry and photometry of faint comets  


How to obtain a Minor Planet Center Observatory code


DSLR imaging


Basic DSLR astrophotography


DSLR Astrometry and Photometry  


Finding comets


Comet Recovery and Discovery


Known comets – observation planning tools and methods


 Image submission


Submitting images to the BAA and other organisations


On-line image analysis


Finding comets on SOHO images


Robotic telescopes


A beginner’s guide to using the iTelescope robotic telescope network

My thanks to Steve Broadbent, of the Hampshire Astronomical Group, for his guidance in using this facility.


Using the SSON robotic telescope




A beginner’s guide to spectroscopy using SSON images and Visual Spec

            Spectroscopy Part I - using the SSON Transmission Grating Spectrograph

            Spectroscopy Part II - Generating a profile using Visual Spec

            Spectroscopy Part III - Analysing spectra using Visual Spec

            Spectroscopy Part IV - Resources

            Spectroscopy, Part V - The Miles catalogue of spectra


A BAA spectroscopy initiative is described in the 2016 April issue of the Journal of the British Astronomical Association. BAA members can access the Spectroscopy forum from the BAA website


Visual observations


Visual observations of comets


Presentations (in pdf format)


(To return to this page after viewing one of the presentations press ‘Back’ on your browser or close the pdf viewer)


BAA Observers’ Workshop – Comet Photometry


BAA Observers’ Workshop - Comets and Meteors 2015 September 26


CCD Astrometry and Photometry - BAA Comet Section meeting 2013 May 18


Comets, How to observe and image them


Comets – where are they ?


DSLR Astrometry and Photometry - ARPS Workshop 2016 September 24


Finding comets on SOHO images


Presentation notes


Comets – where are they ?


Notes for Comets and Meteors workshop


Descriptive stuff


Comets A to Z

An on-going project with new material being added as time permits


Measuring comet magnitudes on CCD images


Measuring comet magnitudes on CCD images – Part II


Multi-aperture photometry by Julio Castellano (Translation from Spanish to English by Google with a little help from Roger Dymock)










Space Missions 




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