Chris Peterson wrote: ↑Sat Dec 24, 2022 3:15 pm
JohnD wrote: ↑Sat Dec 24, 2022 10:35 am
No.1 Grandson used his Xmas present from last year, a 'NASA' telescope (about 50mm) to look at the recent full moon, and got very excited.
Would this comet be too ambitious a target for an 8 year old?
At around mag 10 it's a challenging object for a 50mm telescope. Even more challenging would be the process of finding it without a goto mount or good star-hopping skills. If found, it will look line a dim star that is just slightly fuzzy.
Based on visual estimates posted at COBS, C/2022 E3 (ZTF) is currently running
closer to magnitude 8 and continues to brighten along the projected light curve that peaks around magnitude 5 at the beginning of February 2023.
I've observed it visually several times this month (December 2022) with my 115 mm spotting scope from the relatively dark New Jersey Pinelands, most recently, this past Wednesday morning, Dec 21, before the start of astronomical twilight. It's currently easy to locate in the distinctive constellation Corona Borealis, and it was easy to see at 30x. Increasing the magnification, the coma extension seen to the upper left in today's APOD was also apparent (I did not see the ion tail). I could also detect it as a faint smudge in my handheld 15x56 binoculars on Wednesday morning.
I've seen many dozens of faint comets over the decades, so I wouldn't be too optimistic about an inexperienced 8-yr old seeing it now with just a 50 mm scope, especially if from a non-rural location. However, young eyes do have an advantage for seeing faint things (vs. an old buzzard like myself), and if it does get to the magnitude 5 range in February 2023, it will be a much easier target, albeit, by then in the non-descript constellation of Camelopardalis. In the meantime, the youngster could practice by looking for some of the Messier objects ("faint fuzzies" that were faux comets Charles Messier cataloged to avoid during his comet hunting).