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Sunday, May 04, 2014

 

Comet C/2012 K1 PanSTARRS visits the Whirlpool Galaxy

Comet C/2012 K1 PanSTARRS near the M51, the Whirlpool Galaxy. Image taken with iTelescope T14 on 30-04-14. 10x60 second luminance images stacked with ImageJ and SUMMED. Click to embiggenImage taken with iTelescope T14 on 01-05-14. 10x60 second luminance images and 60 seconds RBG in BIN 2. Stacked with ImageJ and then made into an RBG image using the compose function.Click to embiggen
Image taken with iTelescope T14 on 2-05-14. 6x60 second luminance images stacked with DeepSky Stacker (which is why the image is inverted from the other 3). Image taken with iTelescope T14 on 3-05-14. 10x60 second luminance images stacked with ImageJ and SUMMED. Click to embiggen

Comet C/2012 K1 PanSTARRS is quite bright at the moment, by cometary standards. It is around magnitude 9 (just below binocular brightness but in the range of small telescopes). Currently it is only visible in the northern hemisphere, near the Big Dipper.

Close up crop of the images from the 30th, showing (faintly) the two tails of comet C/2012 K1. This is a median stack in image J.Animated GIF, also of  the 30th, showing all the passing satellites, as well as the comets movement.

Over the past few days the comet has passed M51, the iconic Whirlpool galaxy. This made for some nice compositions in the iTelescope widefield instrument T14. I even tried some colour compositions, but sadly I am not very good at colour.

Still, I got some nice shots with good detail in the galaxy and the comet large enough to make the field interesting (the differing backgrounds are due to different attempts to bring out detail in the cometary tail). In close up you can even see the two tails of the comet. I may try and make a large scale animation later.

This is not the end of the comets encounters, from 11-13 May the brightening comet is close to galaxy M106 and a host of smaller galaxies. Should be very nice to watch.

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