Saturday, January 13, 2018

Surprised by mostly clear skies... A Comet and a Nebula

The Flame Nebula (aka NGC 2024 & Sh2-277)
located just to the left of the left hand star (Alnitak)
in Orion's Belt.
Meade LX200GPS 8" f/10 - prime focus- Canon T3i
ISO 12800 - 7 45 sec exposures stacked with DSS
for a total time of just over 5 minutes

Last night was a surprise... the skies cleared up a bit.
So it was out to the obs to do some tests with my Christmas present: a guiding camera.
I still have to find out why PHD2, while recognizing the camera, will not connect to it.
All the same I managed to eck out a few images, though not as many as I needed to get good clean images. Yeah, I was really pressing it to attempt to use the big scope at prime focus instead of using a focal reducer. Live and learn!

A comet is visible in the night sky near the head of Taurus, the Bull, on its way to the Pleiades.
It is Comet PanSTARRS C/2016 R2.

This image is cropped down and tilted so as to compare it with the next image that was taken with a better setup than mine. You will notice that the comet's tail is not in a typical straight line behind the comet's head. This comet is making some unusual tails in the past few days and I was glad to capture it even if it isn't all that well defined.

The next image Amateur astronomer Gerald Rhemann took from his private observatory in Farm Tivoli, Namibia taken the same night as mine. It is a 56 minute guided exposure through a 12-inch telescope that shows the same "dog-leg" break in the comet's tail.

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