Marking Time

Photo of Don Machholz An important decision I made very early was to mark my progress in comet hunting by counting the number of hours I spent sweeping rather than the number of comets I found. This is because one can spend a great deal of time hunting and not find any comets because there are none out there to be found, or because others are finding them. These are factors that one cannot control. But I have some say over how many hours I spend sweeping. Being a goal-oriented person, I set goals of a certain number of hours per month. This has guided me through 32 years of comet seeking. I count only the amount of time I actually spend looking through the telescope, this gives me accurate meteor and artificial satellite hourly rates since I count the number of these objects I see while sweeping.

The least number of hours I've spent in any one month was 1.00 in Dec. 2001, with 2.0 hours each in Dec. 2002 and April 2003. The greatest number was 69.25 hours in May 1976. Yearly totals vary from 61.00 hours (2001) to 553.00 hours (1976). My average year yields 220 hours, while my current rate is about 100 hours/years. In early 2007 I surpassed 7,300 hours of comet hunting.