Comet 103P/Hartley was moving right near Casseopeia this past week. Since the crown “W” shape of this constellation is easy to spot, that makes it easy to also find Comet 103P/Hartley.

Luckily I was able to get two nights to image this comet a bit more. However, before imaging, I also spent some time observing with a 20mm eyepiece in the CPC 1100. 103P/Hartley appeared very diffuse and the halo was very small, yet unmistakably visible.

Comet 103/P Hartley

Comet 103/P Hartley

This is a particularly fun comet to watch because it is moving so fast. While moving through the backdrop of Milky Way stars near Casseopeia, you can literally see the comet moving relative to the others. This is really quite entertaining because normally stars and things look like they are fixed in the sky. Jupiter’s moon’s offer an exception: a long enough viewing will enable you to see the moons moving, but this isn’t often against a huge backdrop of stars.

Comet 103P/Hartley

Comet 103P/Hartley

The first image here is comparable to the first ones from
last week
. I used the same scope (Celestron CPC 1100), reducer (f/6.3), camera (Orion Starshoot Pro v2). This second one however is without the focal reducer in play. Generally trying to magnify diffuse objects is a bad idea, and it shows true here. The first image is also 30 second exposures while the second is 60. I also found that using a single star “Sum” mode combine (with the comet as the center point) in MaximDL seems to give the most workable images out. I spent a few hours trying to get better images out but this seemed to work best. Next time, I will use the much wider field Televue refractor…

There’s also been a bit more news starting to come out about this comet. Again with the NASA EPOXI (formerly Deep Impact…) coming within a few hundred miles next month, there should be some truly brilliant images coming out. Meanwhile, the EPOXI mission site has put out a few at http://epoxi.umd.edu/3gallery/20100925_103P.shtml

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