Halley’s Comet, March 16, 1986

Not my first astrophoto, but it wasn’t too many years before this one that I was playing around with a film camera and shooting the night sky for the first time.  Halley’s Comet is why I got into astrophotography to begin with.  Everything I did back then was about gearing up for its great and long awaited apparition.  I was obsessed!

This was taken with my Nikon FE-2 film camera, Tri-X 400 speed black-and-white film and a tracked exposure of about a minute or so.  That’s my head on the bottom right.

Here’s a few more images from back then:







Here’s my original web page on Halley’s Comet from back in the day:



Halley’s Comet!

1985 & 1986


After a long search, I recently
(7/28/05) found some of my most prized astrophotographs.  These
pictures, along with a few others, are all that remains of the dozens of
images that I took of Halley’s Comet back in 1986.   I lost the
majority of them when I entrusted them to a relative and they were
inadvertently thrown away.

I would have to say that Halley’s Comet was the most
influential thing that got me into amateur astronomy in the first place.
I had dreamed of seeing it since I was a kid.  For several years
before it’s arrival, I geared up for it.  I got a good scope,
cameras, lens, etc.  When it arrived, I was ready.  I was one of
the first few observers in the world to visually see it when it returned.
I submitted my observations and received a certificate because of my

My pictures were used in my local hometown’s newspaper
and on local TV.  I was interviewed a few times and submitted
homemade finder charts and predictions for the local media to publish to
help others to see this once in a lifetime event.

Its hard to believe that this was almost 20 years ago.
The prints I have show their age and are not in good condition.
There are a few blemishes and scratches on them.  Now, thanks to
computers and the Internet, they will be preserved for others to see and
marvel at.

Update 9/9/2005:  Located some slide
duplicates of Halley’s Comet taken with decent quality COLOR film!
Thought I had lost these, too.  I played them on my old slide
projector and copied them by taking a picture of the screen with my
Canon Digital Rebel.  Click here to
see them



My first visual sighting of Halley’s Comet, September
19, 1985.   Now over 30 years ago.  Wow, how time flies!
It was just a dim fuzz ball in a high power eyepiece, but I was thrilled
to finally see the legendary comet.  I drew these sketches while at
the eyepiece of my telescope.  I submitted my observations and
drawings to the International Halley Watch.  For the first 1000
people to submit observations, they gave a certificate.  I was one
of those first 1000!


The Great Halley’s Comet!  Picture taken in  March, 1986.
Camera was a Nikon 35mm SLR with a 300mm, F/4.5 lens.  Film was Hypered
Tech Pan 2415 Black & White film (about 400 to 800 ISO equivalent) and an
8 minute exposure.  Original 8×10 print scanned
on a flatbed scanner and cropped.   Click the picture to



Close-up of the head of Halley’s Comet from the above
picture.  Also on display is a negative
view.  Click on the images to see full size positive enlargements.

Halley’s Comet, 1986.  Color photo using
Konica 1600 ISO.  This film was the fastest speed film at the time,
but it was so grainy!  It was appalling by today’s standards. I tried
to minimize the grain in Paint Shop Pro, but it just made it look blurry.
I put a negative view up to show it better.


A  one minute exposure of Halley’s Comet taken
with a 50mm lens.   That’s my head in the right of the frame.
This picture was taken the same night as the first picture on this page.
The view is facing east when Comet Halley was an early morning object. I
had the camera mounted on the telescope to track the stars.  The glow
is from the city of Kaplan, La.


Update: Halley’s Comet
Slide Duplicates

Halley’s Comet in early March, 1986.
300mm F/4 telephoto, 400 ISO Hypered Fujichrome slide film developed as
a negative and about an 8 minute exposure.  Some of these slides
were made by photographing the negative with a slide copier.  I
developed all this stuff myself back then.  I even Hypered my own
film!   The only way to handle it was do it yourself, because
the photoshops had no clue as to what was going on.  

Halley’s Comet during the Texas Star Party,
May, 1986.   C-8 telescope with F/5.8 focal reducer, Hypered
Fujichrome 400 developed as a negative and a 12 minute exposure.

Halley’s Comet in early March, 1986.
300mm F/4 lens, Nikon FE2,  Kodachrome 200 slide film, pushed to
400  during development. 

Another Texas Star Party ’86 photo of Halley’s
Comet.   C-8 telescope with F/5.8 focal reducer, Hypered
Fujichrome 400 developed as a negative and a 15 minute exposure.