Archive for November, 2013

Comets comets everywhere

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on November 18, 2013 by Andrew

It has been a while since my last post. This 2013 has been quite a busy and stressful!. To set the scene; earlier in the summer,I was helping a friend move some granite pieces. Well, I managed to crush my fingers. Being quite far from my home (and not wanting to travel 3.5 hours for follow ups) I drove to Dartmouth Hitchcock hospital. The flopping fingers drew the Doc’s conclusion to amputate. Ummmm….NOT happening!. They fixed me up and “Hey, I can still give a high five instead of a high 3 and a half….lmao!”.
The garden: The weeds grew faster than the veggies !.
The weather: Clouds,rain. Not good for observing!.
…and finally..
The move: Not exactly moving ,but more of a replacement. This has kept me busy all by itself. Plus, my other obligations.
Once in a while I have been able to get out to the observatory for some imaging.
The past few months have been dedicated to stellar events. With a few typical objects tossed in for good measure.
As we all know,our skies have become a play ground for comets. Currently their are 4+ in the Northern hemisphere.
The headliner for the season is Comet ISON. Which seems to have come alive in the past several days. Currently comet ISON is at a visual mag of + 5.28 ,and will reach perihelion on Nov 28th at UTC 18:24:48
The image below was taken at 5 am on September 12th. At the time,it appeared through the scope as just a ever so slight smudge when using averted vision. Since it was low in the Eastern sky and at a visual mag of about +11.44. It was severely washed out from the approaching sunrise.
Comet ISON

The next comet in our North skies is Comet Lovejoy. This comet although considerably dimmer than comet ISON is actually much easier to see. It is located East of the constellation Orion. Even though it is dimmer,it is almost directly overhead. This means it has less atmosphere to go through and is also away from the morning twilight.
The striking part of this comet is,it appears as a bright smudge of light. Much like seeing M13 on a hazy night.
The morning I shot the image. I had just awoken ,and didn’t have my morning wake up coffee. I fired up the scope and got the comet centered on the Pc monitor. The imaging program I use,requires me to draw a box around one star,and then another box around another star. This allows the program to track and adjust the images as they are stacked.
As I began stacking images,I was suddenly getting severe star trails. I fought with this for over a hour. All the time using choice words. I couldn’t get my head around what the problem was. I mean,after all,my scope was drift aligned and every other image I had taken was fine. I ran out of patients ,and was about to shut down. When suddenly…. it struck me. Like a addict without his coffee fix,I had drawn a box around the comet nucleus instead of two background stars. The program was doing what it was instructed to do,and use the comet as a tracking tool. The comet is moving MUCH faster than the back ground stars. Fast enough for me to actually watch it move through the star field.
I quickly drew a new box around two background stars ,and suddenly I was getting decent images.
Comet Lovejoy ,like ISON appears green in color.
Comet Lovejoy

%d bloggers like this: