At last, a comet that can be seen relatively easily from this area.
It's not famous. Comet Bradfield was discovered only this past August. But astronomers at the U.S. Naval Observatory say an ordinary pair of binoculars already shows the comet to be an impressive sight, with a fan-shaped tail. They say it already is putting on as good a show as Comet Halley did. But this one should keep getting brighter -- up to about fifth magnitude by Nov. 18. That's not very bright, but still easily visible, even with the naked eye. Then the comet will fade slowly through the end of the month.
Bradfield is the 28th comet seen this year. Like most comets, its orbit of the sun is so long that there is no known record of its last appearance. Comet Bradfield is estimated to take about 2,500 years to complete one orbit and was last potentially visible when Nebuchadnezzar reigned in Babylon.
Though already visible with binoculars, Bradfield should be at its best around Nov. 18. Try viewing with binoculars around 9 p.m. or 10 p.m., looking about 36 degrees up from the horizon in the west-southwest. Astronomers suggest looking first for the constellation Northern Cross and then sighting down the vertical member of the cross to a point about one crosslength below.
The moon should be dark by the 18th, and, as with all astronomical observations, you will see more if you get away from city lights.