One of my favorite effects is a nice gold glitter comet.
This is also one of the easiest and most impressive beginner pyro projects. Make some homemade black powder and one of these simple projectiles, and you are ready to impress the folks around you. And you made it all yourself!
This is also the simplest and most effective rising effect to put on my aerial fireworks shells. The shell is launched out of the mortar and leaves a beautiful glittering gold tail as it ascends skyward. Just as the comet tail burns out, the shell bursts. The rising effect effectively doubles the display time of the shell, and fills the sky all the way from the ground to the starburst. A tail also helps to point the spectators’ eyes at the exact spot where the shell is about to break.
Some master rocketeers put these comets on top of their rocket headings. The comet is ignited at the same time as the rocket, and leaves a beautiful glitter tail as the rocket ascends. I’ll be detailing this method in a future post.
It is also very easy to pop a bunch of these little comets out using a half-inch star-plate, and put them into a small ball shell like the post Really Nice 4″ Plastic Ball Firework Shells. The combination of some color stars and these glitter comets makes a beautiful starburst.
Note: The difference between stars and comets is a subtle one. Typically comets are fired individually, and stars are shot out of a device in a cluster.
I have a favorite gold glitter formula which I have been using for years in both stand-alone comets and as shell tails. Anytime I fire something made with this formula someone is sure to ask me what it was and how they can make it, too. This glitter is a slightly modified version of the Gold Twinklers found in Ofca’s Mastering Cut Stars, and in Weingart’s Pyrotechnics.
This formula is relatively expensive though, because of the chemicals it uses. There is a much less expensive gold glitter formulation which does not use chemicals which cost as much, but which also produces a beautiful effect. This glitter is a slightly modified version of one called D1.
I’ll be using both of these formulae in this project.
Besides the formulated glitter compound, one tool is essential for pumping comets: the comet pump.
The black individual comet pump and star plate shown in the photo are treated aluminum. The other pumps shown are aluminum, brass, and homemade, PVC-pipe-and-wood pumps.
It’s simple and inexpensive to make a 3/4-inch or 1-inch homemade comet pump as shown above. Start by going to Home Depot and getting the correct size oak dowel, a length of the corresponding size of PVC plumbing pipe, and 3 hose clamps which fit the outside of the pipe. (You can buy ready-made comet pumps from Skylighter. Skylighter pumps are rugged brass or aluminum and will typically last a lifetime. They are faster and easier to use than homemade comet pumps.)
Then cut a 6-inch length of the dowel, and a 5-inch length of the pipe, preferably with either a hand miter box or a power one to insure good, square cuts.
Using a hacksaw, slice about halfway up one side of the pipe, and remove enough of that slice of pipe so that it fits the dowel snugly at the sliced end when the gap is closed.
Sand the rough edges of the pipe and dowel, and make sure one end of the dowel is nice and square and smooth. Either seal this end with polyurethane, or cover it with a disc of aluminum-foil duct tape.