One of the cool iphone apps I use for astronomy is Starmap Pro which includes a great “find comets” feature. Ironically, the brightest one coming up was also the very same one that was mentioned recently in Astronomy magazine as “passing near M15″ and was pretty bright – magnitude 8!
Processing comet images can be a challenge. In particular, comets move fast! Well, they move fast with respect to the background stars. This creates challenges for “stacking” images More >
By some stroke of luck, the past few days have been fairly decent – and with no moon, I’ve been doing lots of imaging. If you remember, back in the October / November time frame, I was able to get some pretty Comet 103p Hartley 2 images. Now, with it around magnitude 10, and quite a bit further away, the four inch NP101is isn’t producing quite as exciting images. However, with open cluster Messier 50 nearby, I thought it’d make for a nice shot. More >
We’ve been under a spate of poor sky conditions, yet two days ago there were clear enough skies to take a few images. Even if they didn’t turn out near as pretty, I still learned a bit in the process!
Using the CPC 1100 and 30 second unguided exposures, I stacked these using “comet mode” in DeepSkyStacker. Apparently the first time I tried this I didn’t read the manual very well. This time around I found out how to “click the comet” for stacking even when the comet is not detected as a star More >
So I’ve been crunching all night long on this comet. And I have learned oh so much! Why are the best nights always so arduous?
First, I’ve set up RealVNC because it is so cold outside. I can’t bear to sit there and freeze! Instead I’m controlling my Windows Vista machine which captures the images from my Mac, in the nice warmth of my living room. Ahh.
Next, I’ve tried guiding on stars and stacking, like I have been doing. However, it’s finally now bright enough that with 5 second pulses More >
Well, tonight seemed like it would be a good night although wow it’s getting cold out there fast. And lots of dew, too. My astrozap dew shield was pretty much dripping wet. Gross!
Tonight I decided to image with the CPC 1100, f/6.3 reducer — and to mix it up, I decided to 2×2 bin with the StarShoot Pro. Pulling in 60s unguided exposures yielded pretty nice subs (well, half of them passed my test). I also left the Skyglow filter on, although I don’t know that’s really useful for cometary More >
This comet is much more fun than I had expected. October 5 and October 6 I was able to get some additional image time, in the Televue NP 101is. Unfortunately on both nights I was unable to get my autoguider to track the comet itself, so this first image is 14x 60 second exposures with the 1.5x Imaging Extender.
The second image I mixed it up a little bit: 16x 120 second exposures. The comet is beginning to show a tiny bit of a trail now. Interestingly this is less More >
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.
This is a particularly fun comet to More >
Comet 103P Hartley, discovered in 1986 has been receiving a bit of attention lately. NASA’s Deep Impact space probe will be making a visit in early November. However, riding around magnitude 7, 103P Hartley is now easily visible through binoculars and telescopes.
I thought this would make for an interesting imaging target. But first, how to find it? Well, Bill Rogers over at Cloudynights was kind enough to put a post with Stellarium scripts for locating this comet. One these are stuffed More >