Thursday, January 15, 2015

Back to Comet Lovejoy 2014 !

Surprise! The skies cleared Wednesday night just long enough to capture Comet Lovejoy 2014 again. I was not expecting clear enough skies for at least a week, by government weather reports.
Speaking of government weather reporters, that must be one of the only occupations where you can be wrong 90% of the time and keep your job! LOL !
Anyway, I was surprised on just how far the comet had moved from the previous night against the background of stars! Just guessing, I would say that it had moved at least the distance of holding a quarter at arms length! That is FAST !

Here is a wide angle shot of the region that Comet Lovejoy is in.
Taken with a Canon DSLR t3i, iso 400, 5 minute exposure, 50mm lens at f/2.2, piggybacked on a Celestron 8 (for guiding the image).

At the top is the cluster of stars known as the Pleiades, where you can also see some nebulosity that is part of their nature of being "brand new" stars ("new" is a relative term in astronomy!).
To the left side is the bright star Aldebaran, in the constellation Taurus (The Bull). It is an "orange giant" star (sun) that is only 65 light years away... that means that the light we see today left Aldebaran just 5 years before I was born!
The comet Lovejoy 2014 is clearly seen with it's tail extending out from it (about the 10 o'clock direction) and it is easily visible with a common binocular in the upper south-eastern sky about an hour after sunset from central Oregon. Look for the Pleiades and then scan the area below it.
The "nebulosity" you see around the stars other than the Pleiades in this photo is due to poor seeing conditons (lots of moisture in the air last night.)

Here is a close-up of the same comet taken with the same camera but with a telephoto zoom lens at 250mm f/5.5, iso 3200, 3 minute exposure, with post-processing with GIMP.
The two vertical lines are satellites that photobombed Comet Lovejoy!
The tail is showing better detail now...just wish for clearer seeing!

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