Amateur astronomers everywhere have been following the double comet Schwassmann-
Wachmann 3, which is currently well up in the east in late evening. Its two largest pieces are currently 7th or 8th magnitude — not as bright as was hoped (Sky & Telescope, May issue, page 60), but still visible with good binoculars through a not-too-badly light-polluted sky. There have even been a few reports of naked-eye sightings under very dark skies. See our updated article for the whole story and for links to more detailed charts.
A special event happens this Sunday night, May 7th. The comet's brightest piece, Fragment C, will cross the Ring Nebula in Lyra! The comet will appear brighter and much larger than the Ring, which is 9th magnitude and only 1 arcminute wide.
Closest approach should be around 11 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (3:00 May 8th Universal Time). This timing is best for observers on the eastern side of the continent.
Get out your telescope for this one. And if you're set up to take pictures through your scope, you could get quite a souvenir. We'll surely see pictures of this pairing in books and magazines for years to come. Take one of your own!