Comet 41P on April 22, 2017, 05:28 UT

Comet 41P on Apr 22, 2017, 05:28 UT. 23×300 sec @ ISO 1600, IDAS-LPS, Canon T3, TV-85 at F/5.6.

Comet 41P was the main target I was after for my imaging session on the night of Friday/Saturday, April 21/22, 2017.    It has gotten further away from Earth and is therefore smaller, but it is still relatively bright.   I wanted to get it before it gets any smaller and dimmer.

It is still in the northern skies and circumpolar and thus visible all night.  I still had to wait for it to get high enough and out of the combined LP domes of Abbeville and Lafayette, LA to the northeast.    Transparency was only so-so this night and the LP was really noticeable.  Very humid, too.   Temps were in the lower 70’s/high 60’s during the night, so the camera was on the warm side.  The seeing was pretty good this night, however.

I shot 2 dozen images (about 2hrs worth) and only had to throw away one.  My mount got stuck again while tracking and I had to shake it loose.  The image that was finished right afterwards was no good due to that.  I think the overhaul of my mount is long overdue.    Another project that I really need to get done.   lol

Comet 41P on Apr 22, 2017, 05:28 UT. 23×300 sec @ ISO 1600, IDAS-LPS, Canon T3, TV-85 at F/5.6. Star-Streaks version.

Comet Johnson on April 22, 2017, 04:00 UT

Comet Johnson on Apr 22, 2017, 04:00 UT. 13×300 sec @ ISO 1600, IDAS-LPS, Canon T3, TV-85 at F/5.6.

Here is Comet Johnson again from a relatively dark site.   I did not devote much time to it since it was not my primary target this night.   It is only a little over an hour of integration.   Perhaps it was a little too warm to use 5 minutes/ISO 1600 for exposures, at least with this low number of sub-images.  But, I didn’t want to have to shoot two sets of darks, so I stuck with one exposure length all night long.

Comet Johnson on Apr 22, 2017, 04:00 UT. 13×300 sec @ ISO 1600, IDAS-LPS, Canon T3, TV-85 at F/5.6.

M51 Spiral Galaxy – Only 5 Sub-Images

M51 Spiral Galaxy on Apr 22, 2017, 03:23 UT. 5×300 sec @ ISO 1600, IDAS-LPS, Canon T3, TV-85 at F/5.6.

I was testing the rig on this as the first thing after getting all my gear setup.  It was only 5 sub-images.   I stopped when Comet Johnson got high enough to shoot.

The full size, full res original is fun to poke through since there are many faint fuzzies in this area, which makes it interesting.  I also have a cropped version below:

M51 Spiral Galaxy on Apr 22, 2017, 03:23 UT. 5×300 sec @ ISO 1600, IDAS-LPS, Canon T3, TV-85 at F/5.6. Close-cropped version.

 

C/2015 ER61 (PANSTARRS) on April 8, 2017, 09:45 UT

Comet PANSTARRS on Apr 8, 2017, 09:45 UT. 16×120 @ ISO 1600, 12×120 ISO 3200, IDAS-LPS, Canon T3, Televue TV-85 at F/5.6.

The month of April 2017 is turning out to be really good for comets.  So far, 4 photogenic comets are all vying for my attention.  On the morning of April 8th, 2017, I got a chance to capture images of Comet PANSTARRS (C/2015 ER61) for the first time.   It was a short imaging session due to moonlight interference and the comet rising only high enough to image shortly before sunrise.

Too bad it was short, since I also wanted images of Comet Lovejoy.  It was just north of Comet PANSTARRS and I visually spotted it in 15×70’s binoculars.   But, by the time the sky and comets got right and the exposures looked good, it was already 5:17 AM.  Astronomical twilight was starting at about 5:30 AM.   So, most of my shots ended up having either moonlight interference or twilight interference.   Doh!   🙂

Comet PANSTARRS on Apr 8, 2017, 09:45 UT. 16×120 @ ISO 1600, 12×120 ISO 3200, IDAS-LPS, Canon T3, Televue TV-85 at F/5.6. Star-Streaks version.

I could only get so much out of the two stacks I ended up with.  At least it was something.  I also tried out some new stuff and that was a plus.  An update to my planetarium pointing software allowed me to tell PHD2 Guiding to move the mount with the comet instead of the stars.   It worked somewhat.  At some points the tracking was only so-so and I had to throw out a couple of subs   But, I needed to try it to find that out.

 

 

Comet Johnson Quickie in Strong Moonlight

Comet Johnson on Apr 8, 2017, 09:10 UT. 6×180 sec @ ISO 3200, IDAS-LPS, Canon T3, Televue TV-85 at F/5.6.

While waiting for another comet to rise high enough to start shooting, I took a few shots of Comet Johnson even though the moonlight was strong in that area and I wasn’t expecting to get much.  Surprisingly, the comet shows up with a slightly diminished tail, but the head and coma show well enough.

I did not spend much time on it and was not going to bother processing the data at first.    The colors and dim areas suffered, but not enough so that it couldn’t be fixed somewhat.    Lucky for me.   🙂