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Comet C/2011 L4 (PANSTARRS)

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#651 magic612

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 01:02 PM

I took photos of it last night - perfectly clear, windless, if slightly cold evening. I spent the better part of 30 minutes grabbing frames starting around 8:15.

It wasn't until about 20 minutes in I realized my biggest problem: Light pollution from the southwest suburbs of Chicago were that direction as I faced northwest. Just as the twilight glow was leaving the sky from the Sun going down, the comet was dropping right into the skyglow. :(

My photos weren't very good. Here's the best one - if you could call it that: http://eyesonthesky....Comet-PANSTA...

#652 DaddyBear123

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 02:50 PM

After 3 weeks of no luck (cloudy cloudy cloudy) I finally got my Comet picture

#653 DaddyBear123

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 02:56 PM

Panstarrs

#654 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 10:00 PM

I'm currently at the Naylor Observatory. Tonight was my third consecutive attempt at seeing Comet PanSTARRS in close proximity to M31. The conditions were better than the previous two nights and with a lot of effort I was able to catch a glimpse of the comet through a 5" f/5 achromat at 45x (14mm ES 100 degree eyepiece) and the ASH 17" f/15 classical Cassegrain at 185x (35mm ES 70 degree eyepiece). Although somewhat dim, I could see the core of M31 well enough but the comet was very faint. Comet PanSTARRS was visible for only about 10 minutes or so before it went below the treeline.

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#655 dan777

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 10:07 PM

This pic is a non-processed, single shot, afocal using a point-and-shoot camera with my 8" dob; 15 sec, ISO-400, 9:07 pm EDT on April 2.

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#656 Tonk

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Posted 04 April 2013 - 08:18 AM

I'm obsessed and need help ;) :jump: :tonofbricks: ...



Comet Chasing with a can of Relentless


As many of you know my hobby isn't really astronomy - its a compulsive obsession with comet chasing ...



3 nights ago (1st April - go figure!) I was set up in a farm gate on the Appletreewick to Stump Cross road amongst huge heaps of snow (its at the road head of the track to Hell Hole and Trollers Gill). Forecast were for a good patch of clear sky to the north west from that site looking out over Garssington, while Leeds was to remain under clouds. The forecast was good and accurate for once (actually this has been the first week for a while where all BBC detailed forecasts have consistently held up night after night - the chaotic weather phase of Feb/March appears to have ended). The only problem was orographic clouds hanging in the lee of Great Whernside given we had a easterly breeze. The whole twilight period had clear skies to the NW. To the direct west a cap of clouds was hanging over the 3 peaks. To the north a similar cap was over Great Whernside with fingers starting to extend to the NW.

That was my downfall. By the time it was dark enough and I'd framed M31 and the comet, I had only got 2 clear exposures with the Astrotrac and camera gear before the comet was playing serious dodge with those cloud fingers. I kept at it in case I got lucky but eventually the comet decided that permanent hiding was the order of the night.

The comet itself is like a great comet in minature. Bright coma and a broad dust fan tail, one side (N) is sharply delineated and the trailing side feathered. The only problem was it all fits into an area covered by the disk of the moon - its small! The comet was brighter that the core of the Andromeda Galaxy hanging only a few degrees above the comet. I'd have said it was between 4th and 5th magnitude.



Roll on 2 nights ago. Forecasts were for prolonged clear skies to the west side of Settle, nothing clear to the east until the Vale of York but there you would be looking into the Penine clouds. My Tow Scar site at Ingleton where I'd first viewed the comet on 13th March was no longer going to be suitable as Tow Scar blocks the view to the NW so I consulted the OS maps on-line and decided that a high point on the Forest of Bowland would give me the advantage of altitude and a low horizon to the north west.

I'd never been deep into Bowland before and I arrived just after sunset with a strong pink Belt of Venus to the E - SE and snow capped Fountains Fell, Pen-y-Ghent, Ingleborough, Whernside, Gt Coum mountains spread out before me in the northern sweep. It felt that I was higher but the was an illusion of distance. The view itself was worth the trip out.

I set up the gear and camp chair and watched the deepening twilight. Forecasts were for clouds over the Settle area behind me and sure enough a large rack of lee side standing wave clouds started to grow. I watched for a while and decided that this was stable and not moving - just a crest in the rippling air running off the Penines (easterly wind again). Then the air flow strengthened and created a second standing crest - and a large roll of non moving cloud formed - right in front of me and right where the comet was! (I'd just picked it up in bins as a smudge 10 mins eariler - its 9 pm now). I stood there and swore very loudly to the sky gods.

I had a sudden conflict go through my mind. Pack up and move in a rush or stay put and cross fingers. After sufficient repetitions of my incantation the hot air I was expelling seemed to do the trick and the cloud roll melted away leaving clear skies to the west (it actually reformed and dissipated five more times by 11 pm but was never in the way, being a little to the south as the comet drifted north).

I had the Astrotrac up and running in a couple of minutes to collect 1.5 hours worth of images before the comet became a lost cause low in the clag over Great Coum. Star hoping in the view finder magnifier I use on the camera wasn't too hard using the beta Andromedia to M31 route. 20 second exposure samples lets you trim the framing. Not a bad night as I had enough frames to make a decent image (when I get time - other things in my life are limiting me to prioritorise data capture at present).

I did wonder about attempting the morning slot but back home the 2:30 am alarm was auto-cancelled - by me - I vaguely recall looking out the window and muttering that the moon was too bright and it wasn't worth it. Woke up properly at 6:00 to realise that the option had gone. The other coc up was shooting dark frames - I attempted to do this running the camera in the car boot on the drive home - problem was the power supply switched off after one frame.



Which brings me to last night and this morning and the can of Relentless. The forecasts were again clear skies west of Settle in the evening to midnight slot and clear skies on the North Yorks Moors for the morning. The Pennies would be cloud bound as usual. Hence east and west views would mean picking two sites. Humm - whole plan means I'm going to have to stay awake for 22 hours to get the evening and morning images from two sites about 80 miles apart. I did consider in the early evening to set up on the moors above Otley (10 minutes drive away) - the sky was devoid of clouds at 7:00 pm. My wife said don't risk it - go back to Forest of Bowland were your chances are better. Good job she did talk me into this as later that night looking back over the Penines at 10:00 pm the hills were draped in a blanket of high clouds while to the north, west and south I had pristine clear skies.

This time it wasn't so easy to find the comet. My star hoping was not working and I ended up doing a blind search. Position - shoot 20 seconds - check - pick new position ... swear. It took 20 minutes to find the blighter. Its had taken 3 minutes the night before. The problem was caused by my choice of framing. I'd rotated the camera upside down to get both M31 and the comet in frame and avoid the camera protrusions fouling on the gear head. However this made the searching double hard as the displayed image on the back of camera screen was upside down and it took a while to mentally work out what direction to actually shift the rigg. This whole new framing was due to the significant change in angle position between M31 and the comet in just one night. Anyway it all got sorted. It was a still cool night with very little wind buffeting and I collected 90 minutes worth of images.

Now heres the rub - PanSTARRS is now circumpolar - while I was waiting for an hours worth of darks (fixing yesterdays coc up) I watched the comet skim a degree above the horizon directly below Polaris. Now this is when I drank a whole tin of Relentless down in one (if you don't know what this stuff is - its glucose and caffine concentrate! keeps you relentlessly awake).

I was now buzzing and drove 2.5 hours via Settle - Skipton - Summerbridge - Brimham Rocks (quick sky check - clear but east over Vale of York had too much light pollution - press on) - Ripon - Thirsk - Sutton Bank and North York Moors. Yes - very dark skies - could easily see the great rift in Cygnus, Even saw the head of Scorpius - never see that in Leeds.

Coming up to 3:00 am and its cold with a steady breeze. Parked to the north of Sutton Bank visitor centre on the ridge road. I was just sitting in the open car boot using bins to pick up the comet (conveniently just to immediate right of the Bilsdale TV mast in the distance!) when a Landrover pulled up. I was being questioned by the local farmwatch patrol in case I was poaching. OK I was wearing a balaclava with eye holes and a red head torch on and 4 coats in a Michelan man configuration. My explanation, removal of bandits head gear and the sight of an Astrotrac and camera convinced them I wasn't culling animals for the pot, though they did come back 15 minutes later to double check (I was polar aligning - with that dinky scope attachment - so I was obviously convincing them).

Got another 60 or so minutes of comet/galaxy images, had a nice time scanning truely dark skies (darker to east than the skies at the Forest of Bowland), spotted a couple of swift meteors, watched the waning moon rise and saw in the dawn. Only one frame zapped by a passing cloud all night. As the dawn arch rose in came racks of clouds from the North Sea. Too late sky gods I cried - I have my prize!

Cheers - TC

PS I'll post the image eventually. I now have the pay the price and do extra work time :(

#657 swalker

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Posted 04 April 2013 - 11:03 AM

While shooting the Comet this morning over lake Massebesic in Auburn, NH this morning, I gave it a long look through my 70mm spotting scope between 4:55 and 5:10 AM, EDT. The comet's nucleus was distinctly brighter than the core of M31, with both within the same field. Although I've never given a visual magnitude estimate, I'd still consider it brighter than M31 overall by at least 1/4 magnitude. I couldn't spot it without optical aid.

#658 stevecoe

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Posted 04 April 2013 - 03:23 PM

Tonk;

I have had that madness infect me as well. It is difficult to shake off. And, the next day at work is a real pain. I hope you got some good data and I look forward to your results.

Clear skies to us all;

Steve Coe

#659 Tonk

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Posted 04 April 2013 - 04:02 PM

The wife totally banned any trip tonight - threatened to confiscate my car keys :(. The clear weather window has now closed anyway.

#660 RolandosCY

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Posted 05 April 2013 - 02:36 AM

Did observe PanSTARRS last night after not seeing it for several evenings. Well, it has faded considerably! After a major cold front, I had quite good transparency but from 35 degrees north it is still way too low fighting the twilight. By the time the sky gets black the comet is gone. Last night I did manage to see it with all three instruments I used - Celestron 15x70 binos, Takahashi Astronomer 22x60 binos, and my Tak FS102 with a Nagler 31, an Ethos 21, and an Ethos 13. Best view by far in the 22x60s, but the rather narrow field of view did not allow me to see it alongside M31. This was possible in the field of the FS102 with Nagler 31. The comet appeared more distinct than the core of M31, but I would not call it brighter as M31's core is more extended. Being so low in a not-yet-black sky, I could not detect M31's halo so the two objects appeared distinct. I wish the pairing was ten or fifteen degrees higher! The comet still bears a distinct broad, fan-shaped tail, I estimated its visible size under last evening's conditions at 20 arc minutes.

I will be up due to my work on the dawn of April 7, ehen the comet will be another five degrees higher than yesterday and if weather allows I will give it a shot from the roof of my work's building, though it will be through light pollution...

#661 hiro

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Posted 05 April 2013 - 05:14 AM

Tonk, I'm obsessed, too.
I worked daily as usual and slept 45 minutes in 36 hours around April 4, 2013.

#662 Tonk

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Posted 05 April 2013 - 06:21 PM

I've just had an eventful night - accidently ran the car off the edge of road into a shallow bog on a high desolate moor top :(. Car well stuck. Walked 1 mile down the moor road and very luckily found another astronomer setting up and waiting for the skies to clear. We managed to pull my car back onto the road using a strap as a tow rope - hardest part was undoing the strap afterwards as neither of us have a knife. We got it off using my house key as a saw!

Still after all that I got some imaging in :). The comet is drawing away from M31 but still fits fine in a 170mm lens.

Only problem now is the car - my wife isn't going to be pleased as its hers and its covered - roof included - with smelly black mud from the wheel spins

#663 Tonk

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Posted 05 April 2013 - 06:22 PM

worked daily as usual and slept 45 minutes in 36 hours around April 4, 2013.


Hiro - you are madder than me!

#664 krp

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Posted 05 April 2013 - 07:58 PM

This may be the last picture I post of the comet since it is cloudy for the next week with the brightness fading fast.

Posted Image
Galaxy Chasing a Comet by kevin-palmer, on Flickr

The technical details are on Flickr. It appeared that the comet was racing down to the horizon and as it passed Andromeda, it said "Eat my dust tail!" :lol:

#665 RolandosCY

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 02:13 AM

I've just had an eventful night - accidently ran the car off the edge of road into a shallow bog on a high desolate moor top :(. Car well stuck. Walked 1 mile down the moor road and very luckily found another astronomer setting up and waiting for the skies to clear. We managed to pull my car back onto the road using a strap as a tow rope - hardest part was undoing the strap afterwards as neither of us have a knife. We got it off using my house key as a saw!

Still after all that I got some imaging in :). The comet is drawing away from M31 but still fits fine in a 170mm lens.

Only problem now is the car - my wife isn't going to be pleased as its hers and its covered - roof included - with smelly black mud from the wheel spins


Yep! You are right Tonk, it becomes an obsession. In an earlier post I also wrote it becomes an obsession... On Thursday evening I tried for the comet from what I thought it was a good place - but my view was blocked by a small hill (here on Cyprus it is much lower on the sky than in the UK). So I continued on a dirt road I never went through before. At some point I found myself on a steep climb on a road that looked like a stream bed, full of rocks and holes, with a rock wall on one side and a cliff on the other, with a width barely enough to fit my car (CR-V). Thank god the 4WD of the car worked and I could barely clear the rocks. But on top of the hill the view was great and saw the comet pairing with M31 in the deep twilight...

#666 Mike C

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 07:22 AM

Really enjoying these PanSTARRS anecdotes and observations!

In their spirit, I decided to stay up all night, imaging galaxies at first and then viewing and imaging PanSTARRS later in the morning. Although the comet is virtually circumpolar, I live in a small valley, and my imaging location is obstructed by houses.

I estimated I'd be able to see PanSTARRS shortly before 5am. This was about right, but I had underestimated a different problem: almost as soon as PanSTARRS cleared my garden fence, I started to get flare in the images from the *one* street light that affects my observing site! :(

I then spent until morning twilight trying to minimise the flare, but in the end the best images were from just after PanSTARRS had cleared the fence and before the flare kicked in (a period of only a few minutes).

Despite the imaging problems, it was wonderful to observe PanSTARRS under a dark sky. It was beautiful in 7 x 50 binoculars, and was still quite easily visible to the naked eye, despite its low altitude.

Regards,

#667 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 10:08 AM

I returned not long ago from one of the best local dark sites, if a location requiring a 75-mile drive can be called local.

Last night two fellow CAS members and I saw Comet PanSTARRS and M31 in the same field of view through three sets of 70mm binoculars. Spotting the comet was not all that easy at first, since it wasn't visible until it was fairly close to setting. As the sky got darker, the comet's broad tail became more apparent. Comet PanSTARRS was not visible to the naked-eye at our latitude.

Two of us watched the comet until it dove into the trees in the northwest.

Dave Mitsky

#668 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 10:25 AM

There's another fantastic image of M31 and the comet posted at ttp://spaceweather.com/gallery/indiv_upload.php?upload_id=80426

Dave Mitsky

#669 Mike C

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 03:27 PM

Further to my earlier post, I've started to look at the images and it seems most suffer from the streetlight flare to some extent, while the first have some vignetting at the bottom as the comet had not fully cleared the garden fence!

In retrospect, I realise that I became so preoccupied with the flare problem that I didn't stop to study the comet through the scope properly (though I viewed it extensively with binoculars). The weather forecast is not favourable for another chance!

Anyway, below is what I have so far. This was a single 4-minute unguided exposure at ISO 1600 with a C8 (f/6.3 with focal reducer) and a modded EOS 600D. I used DeepSkyStacker to stack the light frame, darks and flats, and used Canon Photo Professional and Paint Shop Pro for post processing.

Regards and clears skies!

Attached Files



#670 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 11:31 PM

There's an article on and a photograph of the pairing of the comet and M31 at http://media.skyandt...an-4-4_full.jpg

Dave Mitsky

#671 Tonk

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Posted 07 April 2013 - 05:10 AM

Yes Sean has been posting his images here on CN (DSLR forum)

Well its all over in the UL now for a few days as weather has turned. Last night was "clear" but transparency was the pits - could not see comet in binns though camera did pick it out - barely. Only the brightest stars seen visually - it was bad!.

#672 james7ca

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 05:24 PM

I was able to see PanSTARRS this morning quite easily using 7x50 binoculars. This is the first time I've seen the comet against relatively dark skies, the arrangement in the morning (April 10, before 5AM PDT) being much more favorable than after sunset from my latitude (approximately 33N).

My skies are light polluted and the comet is still fairly low even in the morning so it was far from being a spectacular view. There is a definite tail or extended coma so it's not just a featureless spot. M31 (the Andromeda Galaxy) was also visible but was much lower in the sky. The core of M31 was brighter than PanSTARRS, but I don't think there was a huge difference in the ease of their respective visibility.

I have no adventurous or tragic tale to tell, other than that it was way too early for me to be up at that time of the day.

#673 hiro

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 01:57 AM

Hi,

I took the comet before twilight on April 8, 2013JST or April 7, 2013UTC.
The comet moved rapidly during the imaging session.

Posted Image

Data and the original are here:
http://www.flickr.co...roc/8639820294/

Thank you for looking.

#674 Mike B.

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Posted 12 April 2013 - 11:15 AM

Posted Image
Comet Panstarrs. 20x15 sec @ 1600, 8x15 sec @ 3200. Canon T3 mod, Canon 200mm F/2.8.

On Friday morning, April 12, 2013, I drove about 15 minutes from home and setup my equipment on some rural property I own to observe and shoot Comet Pan-STARRS.

I used some Pentax 10x50's to take a good look at the comet. It was dim and hard to see through the muck, but I could make out a short tail and the head of the comet in between two brighter stars. It was about 10 degrees above the horizon at that point.

By the time twilight started, it was about 15 degrees high, so it wasn't the best conditions. The low altitude, a little fog and less than average transparency hindered the view. But, it was the first time I've been able to see the comet since late March.

I had an old CG3 mount with a clock drive that I mounted a camera on with a 200mm f/2.8 lens attached to take some images. I had trouble getting it to track at first, so I didn't get very many sub-images before twilight took hold. I ended up with 7 minutes worth of subs (about 28) and the image above is the result of combining them all together.

#675 nytecam

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Posted 12 April 2013 - 05:20 PM

Some nice pics. Here's my shot from last night Apr 11 - first in 10 days - data on image. :grin: Failed to pick it up in binos in the London murk - it's now circumpolar [visible all night] in UK skies :lol:

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