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Monday, January 12, 2015


A Night of Comet Goodness! (11 January 2015)

Latest C/2014 Q2 Lovejoy from iTelescope T14 10 July 01:20 UT. 5x180 second luminance frames, median stack, east top north right. Click to embiggen.In contrast this is a stack of 5x1 second images (ISO 1600) of the comet taken with my Canon IXUS through my 114 mm Newtonian with 25 mm Plossl infinity to infinity focussing. Not flash, but I did it! Bright star is 31 Tau.

An epic night of comet C/2014 Q2 Lovejoy observation has come to a close. After days of pouring rain and cloud, it all suddenly cleared this afternoon and I finally got to see the comet with my unaided eye. It was tricky at first and I needed, but once I had become familiar with the area it was pretty easy to see. Distinguishing it from 31 Tau was tricky, but Fuzziness was the key.

Comet Lovejoy imaged with my Canon IXUS. A stack of 10x15 second images at ISO 400. The comet is indicated by the yellow lines (click to embiggen)Comet Lovejoy imaged with my Canon IXUS. A stack of 10x15 second images at ISO 400 and 3x zoom. The comet is pretty obvious in this one (click to embiggen).

This heralded a frenzy of binocular sketching, telescope sketching, and photography. I was pleased with my sketches, my sketched star positions agree pretty well with the charts when I checked them later.

Tonight's sketches, click to embiggen.

In binoculars the comet was round and fuzzy, no hint of tail structure. In the thelescope (114mm Netwonian with 25mm Plossl eyepiece) the coma was clearly asymmetrical, but no clear tail. There was a well defined central condensation.

With the binoculars I tried to estimate the magnitude of the comet using the defocusing method, but with poor comparison stars the best estimate I have is 4.3-5.0

Finally I managed to image the comet through my telescope (the small Newtonian without time drive). It is a pretty ordinary image, but I am chuuffed that I achieved it (only because it was close to a bright guide star).

So all in all an epic night. I doubt the weather will hold out, but if I can do more of these observations I will. 

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