Comet Pan-STARRS April 1 to April 6, 2013

Comet Pan-STARRS Early Morning, April 1 to April 6, 2013.

As of this writing, this is what we have in store for Comet Pan-STARRS down here in southern Louisiana.   Its evening viewing period is almost totally dominated by twilight, so the morning part of the comet’s apparition is what I’ll be concentrating on, now.

On April 1st it will be low at the start of strong twilight about 80 minutes before sunrise.  This point is about the limit for shooting images because of the encroaching twilight, so any images need to be shot before then.    It will be only 4 degrees or so above the horizon, so it will be very difficult if the sky conditions are not right.   Conditions improve somewhat by April 6, 2013, so I think I stand a better chance then.   At 5:30 am, the beginning of astronomical twilight, the comet will be over 7 degrees high, which improves my chances considerably for getting usable images.   If I start shooting then, I have about 10 minutes to shoot before strong twilight gets me.   lol   😀 Continue reading Comet Pan-STARRS April 1 to April 6, 2013

The Meade SN-8 Imaging Rig

My Meade SN-8, 8 Inch Schmidt-Newtonian.
My Meade SN-8, 8 Inch Schmidt-Newtonian.

This is one of my scopes that I use from time to time.  Its a relatively fast 800mm, F/4 optical arrangement.    When tuned it produces great images.  Trouble is, its hard to tune.  But, not impossible.   In addition to the scope, there’s a 500mm, F/5 achromatic telescope mounted on top and is used for guiding.

The laptop is used to control the telescope mount, control the cameras and do the guiding.

Comet Pan-STARRS March 25, 2013

Comet Panstarrs.  1x8 sec @ ISO 800, 200mm F/2.8.
Comet Panstarrs. 1×8 sec @ ISO 800, 200mm F/2.8.

Ok, I managed to get a shot of Comet Panstarrs despite the moon and lingering twilight.   At least you see the comet.  Somewhat.  lol

It was a little difficult to shoot images and entertain visitors simultaneously.  Its a long story, but suffice it to say that by the time I was finally shooting images, the comet was already deep in the muck.  In fact, it was there by the time it got dark enough to shoot long exposures.

Oh, well… at least I didn’t scratch.  🙂

Continue reading Comet Pan-STARRS March 25, 2013

The Pleiades and Comet C/2012 L2 (LINEAR)

The Pleiades and C/2012 L2 (Linear)
The Pleiades and C/2012 L2 (Linear).  40×15 sec @ ISO 800, Canon 200mm, F/2.8.

I struck out trying to image Comet Panstarrs on Sunday evening, March 24, 2013.  It was just too short of a time to find it in bright twilight, bright moonlight and with its low altitude.  However, I tried something to redeem myself while I still had the equipment setup.  I shot the Pleiades with a bunch of 15 second unguided exposures.   I managed to catch them and Comet C/2012 L2 (Linear) in the shot.    This is cropped down quite a bit to just the cluster and comet.

By the way, the comet is in the lower right.  Its that small greenish smudge.   🙂

A Comet in the Clouds

Comet Panstarrs in the Clouds
Comet Panstarrs – 1×1 sec @ ISO 1600, Canon 200mm F/2.8

It was predicted to be clear on March 20, 2013 when I took the above picture.   However,  a low bank of clouds moved in at the last moment and messed up my plans to shoot Comet Pan-STARRS with the Canon 200mm F/2.8 telephoto lens for a wide-angle view.   The mount wasn’t tracking very well, either and I wasted quite a few shots because of that issue.    So, the only good image of the comet came through a crack in the clouds.

Continue reading A Comet in the Clouds