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Home Forums Observing and Imaging Group Comet Lovejoy

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This topic contains 15 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  Sumitra 2 years, 8 months ago.

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 16 total)
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  • #9983

    Tej
    Participant
    Topics: 36
    Replies: 588

    Comet Lovejoy (c2014 q2), an 11,500 years orbital, only discovered in August by Terry Lovejoy (how many comets has this guy discovered now?!) is now apparently visible to the naked eye and has shown brighter than was initially expected. It will be the brightest comet high in the darker skies for a few years. Its at magnitude 5.35 right now and they predict will reach magnitude 4 through January. Although, when I check it on Stellarium it shows a maximum magnitude of 4.94 on 11th january. Still, sounds like a comet for us to catch at our next Blackheath event.

    http://www.skyandtelescope.com/astronomy-news/observing-news/binocular-comet-lovejoy-heading-c2014-q2-lovejoy-1211142/

    I have never ever seen a comet either through telescope or naked eye. Given its huge orbital time span, it excites me to set my eye on it. I am wondering whether its worthwhile to travel to a darkish site for this? Or will seeing it in London be sufficient enough, I wonder.

    My priority is to see it but it would be nice to image it too. I have no idea what it takes to image a comet though, how the heck does one track it for a start if using a goto scope? I’ll give it a go with short exposures anyway.

    #10024

    Sumitra
    Participant
    Topics: 21
    Replies: 233

    I did it a couple of years ago. I can’t remember exactly other than that I did a stack of a few frames and could see a little blurry blob. That was for wide angle, and so it doesn’t help you with your goal of doing it with a scope!

    #10038

    Mike Meynell
    Moderator
    Topics: 119
    Replies: 749

    We must organise a session to view the comet soon, ideally when the Moon is out of the way in about a week or so.

    I haven’t photographed a comet before, but have seen plenty visually. This sounds like it’ll be a good one – anything brighter than magnitude 5 is pretty special. Should be very easy to view with binoculars, and may be naked eye in a dark area.

    The main issue with photography is that the comet is moving at a different rate to the stars, so you need to track on the comet and not the stars. This means that the stars will trail when you stack your frames, but you get much more detail from the comet and should be able to pick up the tail with an exposure >90 seconds, as I understand it.

    #10044

    Sumitra
    Participant
    Topics: 21
    Replies: 233

    Here’s mine… I am not super happy with it, I think I should have done a much higher exposure time even with trailing stars. I would have done it again today but it’s cloudy, so I’ll have to wait tomorrow or day after.
    See, like I’d mentioned before, best to take different exposures when you can instead of regretting later! I only did 2 sec and 4 sec this time.

    First attempt at catching Comet Lovejoy C-2014 Q2 with the Moon still quite high.

    Stacked using DSS, 70 Lights, 15 Darks, 15 Bias. ISO 1600, f/5.6, 2sec 300mm cropped

    Lovejoy C-2014 Q2 Stacked.jpg by Sumitra_S[/url], on Flickr

    #10047

    Tej
    Participant
    Topics: 36
    Replies: 588

    Lovely comet Sumitra! I read Lovejoy had two tails and lost them both! Pity, although it should grow another again, hopefully soon. I hope you can capture that when it does. Hey you shot the stars too…I mean literally, there’s bullet holes in them!

    #10052

    Sumitra
    Participant
    Topics: 21
    Replies: 233

    Oh I hope it grows back by Monday/Tuesday! That’s when I’m heading to my friend’s place to do it with his tracking mount!

    Not sure how I shot the stars. Wonder if it happened when stacking… !

    #10053

    Mike Meynell
    Moderator
    Topics: 119
    Replies: 749

    Here’s mine

    Nice one, Sumitra. A good capture, the colour of the comet looks terrific. I even like the packet of polo mints that you scattered amongst the sky 😉

    Had a look at the comet visually this evening… sky is clear as a bell in Whitstable, after a rotten day of rain. Easily visible with binoculars… a lovely diffuse object, quite close to Rigel (Beta Orionis).

    Very simple to find tonight. About 9 degrees to the west (i.e. right) of Rigel, and down about 2 degrees. I found it by looking for I (53) Eridani first (mag 4), which has a mag 5.5 star within half-a-degree, so easy to spot. Then move up and left by about a degree, and you should see three “stars” in a diagonal line. A mag 5 star top-right, then a mag 6.5 in the middle, with the bottom-left “star” a diffuse glow. This bottom “star” is, of course, the comet!

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 8 months ago by  Mike Meynell.
    #10055

    Sumitra
    Participant
    Topics: 21
    Replies: 233

    Nice one, Sumitra. A good capture, the colour of the comet looks terrific. I even like the packet of polo mints that you scattered amongst the sky

    Thanks Mike! I was quite pleased with the colour. I found it easily too, Just the first picture I took had it in!

    I’ve a friend in a village outside of Nice who has a tracking mount. I will go one of the next two evenings to take some photos with him and the tracking mount. He does a lot of astrophotography and even has an agreement with the mayor to turn off all lights of the village once in a while for the night!

    Lucky you with the clear skies. I wanted to show it to my dad but it’s been overcast the last two evenings. So not even going to try catching some shooting stars tonight. Well, who knows, my uncle/neighbour might have come to steal my camera again to get 700 shots of his fridge again, so… 😉

    #10056

    Sumitra
    Participant
    Topics: 21
    Replies: 233

    PS. I think every one should scatter polo mints on their astrophotography! It’s just good to get you to sleep after stargazing :p

    I am not sure how to reproduce them thought…

    #10064

    Tej
    Participant
    Topics: 36
    Replies: 588

    Tuesday looks to be the best night this week, weatherwise, for imaging Lovejoy, Sumitra. I’m going to camp in Brede on that night and have a go at it too and at least see a comet for the first time.

    #10065

    Sumitra
    Participant
    Topics: 21
    Replies: 233

    Good luck, Tej! I’m going tonight 🙂

    #10075

    Sumitra
    Participant
    Topics: 21
    Replies: 233

    Here it is! Feedback welcome!

    Taken on Mont Cima near Aspremont on an evening with Florent Dubreuil his father. On a full moon night as I am leaving Nice before the weekend! Big thank you Florent for the tracking mount!

    35 Light frames, 25 Darks, 20 Bias stacked in DeepSkyStacker and processed in LR5.
    35 x 30 sec exp ISO800 , F/5.6, 120mm cropped

    PS I forgot to bring the polo mints and my Star Gun on this occasion, sorry Mike & Tej! Just an old regular/dull photo this time. 😉

    Comet Lovejoy C/2014 Q2 v2.jpg
    by Sumitra_S[/url], on Flickr

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 8 months ago by  Sumitra.
    #10087

    Mike Meynell
    Moderator
    Topics: 119
    Replies: 749

    Here it is! Feedback welcome!

    Wonderful image, Sumitra. I’m really impressed. And you managed to capture the tail as well!

    Really beautiful, well done.

    #10088

    Sumitra
    Participant
    Topics: 21
    Replies: 233

    Wonderful image, Sumitra. I’m really impressed. And you managed to capture the tail as well!

    Really beautiful, well done.

    Thanks, Mike! Much appreciated! I am so glad my friend took pity on me after seeing my attempt with manual tracking and proposed to go out before I leave Nice.
    It required quite a bit of post processing after stacking.

    I’m now afraid I will never be satisfied without a tracker… so I think I will go for the iOptron Skytracker v2!
    My friend has the Vixen Polarie which also has lunar and solar tracking which the Ioptron doesn’t have, but the Ioptron seems more practical from the various reviews I read.

    Any one has a polarie or a skytracker?

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 8 months ago by  Sumitra.
    #10092

    Tej
    Participant
    Topics: 36
    Replies: 588

    Fantastic capture, Sumitra! Lovejoy sure looking as sexy as its namesake. I have been toying with all 3 of those portable trackers for a while myself but they are too light as I need to challenge myself with heavier telescopes mounts to carry on my back…I am kidding…in case you take me too seriously Sumitra, which sometimes you do, lol. They each have their cons and virtues. I think the Ioptron looks to be the winner in terms of value for money and performance but at a higher cost, Astrotrac wins with its hefty payload if that is a major criteria. However, there is yet another fourth option, Sumitra, which has just been released in the last month or so and is making my wallet twitch uneasily. Its called the Skywatcher Star Adventurer and its very feature rich ( various tracking modes and built in timelapse) with great build quality at a very attractive price. Thing is, I dont see any official hands on reviews yet but there are some happy customers achieving great results with guiding but not seeing any comments on its performance unguided…everyone seems to be into bloody guiding!

    Here is a video I found that best showed its features. But google around for user thoughts on forums.

    My 2nd Trip to Brede campsite:) (wrote this part on the train back to London couple hours ago)

    Yay, I saw my very first comet 🙂 But I didn’t image it as planned in the end as I ended up chilling with the camp owners giving them a tour of the skies again on THEIR telescope, lol. They are now treating me as a houseguest and friend, putting me up in their yurt and making a meal for me, gosh…I didnt need to bring any of my tent gear again. Naturally I showed them Lovejoy and it was a beauty in their Nexstar 8se (which they havent quite got the hang of yet so I showed them more tips). I couldn’t discern any tail though but we still made love to its lovely nucleus and dusty regions which looked so much more crisp in a 25mm eyepiece than the higher power eyepieces (because of the moonlight pollution?). I did get around to imaging but not the comet as that went too low by the time I got my bloody heq5 all aligned up. So I abandoned my telescope and went back the owners’ nexstar and imaged Jupiter and moon for a couple of hours which I’ll process later…I was imaging it with my Canon but plain forgot that I own a qhy5l-II with colour filters and wheel…which I brought along…which I never bloody used yet. Sheesh. All good though, had a great trip. Lovejoy is a wow. But I must try to capture its reflected light photons for prosperity 🙂

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 8 months ago by  Tej.
    • This reply was modified 2 years, 8 months ago by  Tej.
    • This reply was modified 2 years, 8 months ago by  Tej.
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