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Comet C/2011 L4 (PANSTARRS)

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#201 Jay

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Posted 10 March 2013 - 12:19 AM

I posted this in "General Observing" but I'll add it here too if that is okay.


LOL, well I caught it! I was expecting a lot more from this effort and actually just stopped laughing my head off. But here's my meager capture from San Clemente Pier (Catalina Island in the background).

It helps to squint really hard. LOL!!!!

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#202 Jay

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Posted 10 March 2013 - 12:20 AM

And here is the full frame image. Nikon D800, 20 seconds, f11, 135mm.

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#203 Jay

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Posted 10 March 2013 - 12:29 AM

and here is another frame (extreme crop) showing an airplane passing just below.

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#204 aa6ww

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Posted 10 March 2013 - 12:55 AM

I thought I saw it, but am somewhat less confident now that all the negative reports have come in. It was about where it should have been, a short, very well-defined stub, sort of like I saw McNaught a few years back, but pointing hard to the south, a little before 10 o'clock on a clock face, relative to the horizon. Also, unlike a contrail, it set behind a hill rather than simply dissipating, fading, or blowing toward us with the wind.

Hard for me to judge size or brightness, because I couldn't see it with the naked eye and didn't have time to measure it relative to objects on the horizon. Saw it for only a few moments, within about fifteen minutes of the sun dropping behind the distant hills.

Anyway, I'll be trying again from the same spot tomorrow, so if it's clear, I'll know for sure then.


You absolutely saw it. The description of the tails direction was spot on with what I saw, although in the straight through configuration that I had with my 6" refractor with no diagonal installed, my bearings are completely screwed up as to which direction is which. I saw a nice wide tail which fanned out, much wider than the bright coma. The coma had a bright star like center with plenty of fuzz around the coma, and the tail fanned out quite nicely. Again, this was my observations with my 6" F/5 refractor. Within about 5 minutes after I saw it, it dipped behind some very low clouds, then reappeared for about 2 minutes, then dipped below the horizon. I panned to the right and saw Mars.
I think it was very cool to see. I have a hard time hearing that people are disappointed in what it looks like, I think it was incredible.

...Ralph

#205 aa6ww

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Posted 10 March 2013 - 01:02 AM

and here is another frame (extreme crop) showing an airplane passing just below.



Hey Jay,

I'm gonna have to question that photo because there is no visible coma in that photo, and the views i saw of the comet tonight had a very very bright coma, very star like, compared to the tail, and the tail I saw fanned out away from the coma. The tail was nearly as wide as the length of the tail, at least during the twilight time when I saw it.

If i was to say, Id say that was not it!

...Ralph

#206 Ron Luxemburg

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Posted 10 March 2013 - 01:14 AM

What time was the image taken ? Myself and a friend tried to spot it in 11x80's and 10x50's but no luck from up in the foothills above Monrovia tonight.

#207 Jay

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Posted 10 March 2013 - 01:15 AM

well, you may be right but i have multiple 20 second exposures where this object appears in the same spot. in fact, the detail shot with the airplane below is a separate shot from the one above.

Jay

on edit: 135mm lens has an angular size of about 15º wide x 10º tall. This image shows Comet PanSTARRs about 3º above the horizon at approximately 6:32 pm PST.

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#208 Jay

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Posted 10 March 2013 - 01:26 AM

airplanes seem to be moving but not this fuzzy

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#209 aa6ww

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Posted 10 March 2013 - 01:36 AM

well, you may be right but i have multiple 20 second exposures where this object appears in the same spot. in fact, the detail shot with the airplane below is a separate shot from the one above.

Jay


Honestly, I think that's too high up in the sky for tonight, especially after the sun went down. PannStarr was only 3 or 4 degrees above the horizon tonight and again, there's no visible coma. The bright coma is what catches your attention first when its visible.

...Ralph

#210 Jay

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Posted 10 March 2013 - 01:42 AM

Here's my data from Starry Night Pro set for March 9 at my location. Much higher than 3 or 4 degrees here in Southern California.

March 9th, 2013
_____________________________________

Sunset: 5:53 PM
_____________________________________

Sun at 5:49 PM AZ 265º

PANSTARRS AZ 258º ALT 11º
_____________________________________

Comet Set: 6:46 PM AZ 263º
_____________________________________

#211 Zebra24601

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Posted 10 March 2013 - 02:01 AM

It does look high, but he's shooting with a 135mm telephoto. What I thought I saw looked an awful lot like these picture: Very thin, very straight, no coma visible. I was using 12x60 binoculars, though, so everything's going to look pretty small. Also, the sky was still pretty bright.

I'm working tomorrow, but I'm going to try to take a break just around 6pm and look for PanSTARRS, again. If it's clear, it should be easier and I'll be more certain. If I can't get a break then, I'll try again on Monday evening, someplace with a clear western horizon.

#212 Jay

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Posted 10 March 2013 - 02:18 AM

Here's a shot taken at about ten minutes after those posted above. About 6:40pm. Another 20 second exposure and an extreme crop.

On edit: This shows this object about 2.5º above the horizon.

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#213 aa6ww

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Posted 10 March 2013 - 02:20 AM

Here's my data from Starry Night Pro set for March 9 at my location. Much higher than 3 or 4 degrees here in Southern California.

March 9th, 2013
_____________________________________

Sunset: 5:53 PM
_____________________________________

Sun at 5:49 PM AZ 265º

PANSTARRS AZ 258º ALT 11º
_____________________________________

Comet Set: 6:46 PM AZ 263º
_____________________________________


I've been observing comets for the last 30 years and Ive never seen a comet without a coma. Ive seen plenty of comets without tails, but none without coma's. Also, your 135mm camera is equivalent to less than 3x in magnification, unless you have a 100mega pixel camera, the comet would never be detectable at that little magnification. You can see from what others are posting out here, in that they are not seeing the comet even in 11x binoculars. My scope was at 26x and it was a small object at 26x. Though its not impossible, It would be very improbably that tonight, PannStarr was detectable in a 3x lens system, which would be more than your 135mm camera lens. People out here were not seeing it with 7 to 11x binoculars. I had my 10x binoculars around my neck and after I detected the comet in my 6" refractor, I looked for it with my binoculars and couldn't see it.
PannStarr is very comet looking, tonight it had a bright starlike coma and a fuzzy area around it, and a wide stubby tail, even in the twilight light that I saw it in.
Maybe because I was using a 6" refracor instead of smaller optics, we are seeing the same thing two different ways? Look for it tomorrow, it will be 2 deg higher, when you see it, you'll know what I'm talking about.
Just remember you wont see it right at sunset, there's too much light then, and it still maybe extremely difficult to detect in a pair of 7x50 pair of binoculars. Cameras can pick up more they eyes can, and if so, the coma should be blaring in your photo.

For those looking for PannStarr tomorrow night, I would strongly recommend using a small telescope instead of low power binoculars.
I do think 20x80x, or 25x 100's binoculars should pull it out nicely. Id not recommend anything below 20x. Just look about 10 degrees to the left of where the sun touches the Horizon, and start panning above that area and look for a fuzzy star until it gets dark enough to detect the tail.


...Ralph

#214 Jay

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Posted 10 March 2013 - 02:37 AM

135mm lens has an angular size of about 15º wide x 10º tall. If you scroll up to the full frame shots they show Comet PanSTARRs about 3º above the horizon at approximately 6:32 pm PST. 36 megapixels is quite enough when you factor in a 20 second exposure.

#215 aa6ww

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Posted 10 March 2013 - 03:06 AM

even this photo shows a coma:

http://spaceweather....fman-IMG_010...

compared to yours:

http://www.cloudynig...04extremecro...

all I'm saying is, "where's the coma" if its comet PannStarr cuz comet PannStarr has a very obvious coma.

I saw a very obvious coma in my views tonight, and another person who saw it last night also said it had a very obvious coma.

I'm not a photographer, so you would know better than me, but wouldn't a camera pick out the coma even more so than the tail?

that's all I'm saying, because your angle looks correct and everything seems right, but there's no coma.

I'll just leave it at that..

....Ralph

#216 Jay

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Posted 10 March 2013 - 03:26 AM

Hi Ralph!

"all I'm saying is, "where's the coma" if its comet PannStarr cuz comet PannStarr has a very obvious coma. "

I can attempt to explain what I captured thusly: Hazy high clouds here (vs transparent skies). 135mm vs. 55mm (huge difference in tracking smear). 20 seconds of blur vs 6.8 seconds. I'm not tracking so any specular stellar point, that isn't already fuzzed out by thin high clouds is going to smear and would not result in highly condensed coma -- especially from a site with transparent skies like the photo you linked us to.

The "object" I've captured is tracking exactly as Stary Night is predicting for Comet PanSTARRs. I respect your 30 years (I've been lucky to have been at this for 40 years too and 30 of those involved professionally as a photographer).

Your friend,

Jay

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#217 pogrzex

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Posted 10 March 2013 - 04:47 AM

It is not the comet dude :D looks to me like some strange cloud or a fake (no offence) :p

#218 RobK

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Posted 10 March 2013 - 07:37 AM

Yeah, sorry, these shots aren't the comet. The overwhelmingly bright part of PANSTARRS is the tiny, intense inner coma and if your images show just a tail it isn't the comet. Same for binocular & naked-eye views.

As the comet moves into darker skies over the next week, visually look for a faint 'star' to pop out, in the right position. The tail will reveal itself as the sky darkens. It is visible in binoculars before it is visible naked-eye of course - if you can locate the comet (think 'star'!) with binoculars then this significantly helps locate it naked eye.

It's still just visible from the south and a friend in NSW, Australia, successfully saw it again tonight. I haven't seen it since 6 March due to cloud. My "farewell" shot from that night is attached.

Good luck - hope it puts on a good show & I look forward to your reports & images! :)

Cheers -

Rob

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#219 BrooksObs

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Posted 10 March 2013 - 07:57 AM

Indeed, the posts by Ralph and Rob are 100% correct. The various astronomy forums this morning are listing all sorts of reports of supposed sightings, along with photos, all actually of short jet con trails reflecting sunlight. As in Rob's photo, when you do finally spot the comet its head will far out-shine the tail. What most observers are totally neglecting to appreciate is the fact that at such low elevations over the horizon atmospheric extinction will be very large, in many cases running to 3-4 magnitudes, or even more, depending on the actual clarity of the air. Now imagine trying to see a star of say 3rd or 4th magnitude against that bright twilight background. Telescopes may well bring it out, but not common binoculars and certainly not the naked eye!

But be patient, PanSTARRS will reveal itself in all its glory in the course of the coming week as its elongation from the Sun slowly increases and its elevation over the western horizon grows. Just the span of 3 or 4 days is going to make a dramatic difference in the comet's visibility from most locations. So, just give the comet a little more time.

BrooksObs

#220 Special Ed

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Posted 10 March 2013 - 08:37 AM

BrooksObs & Rob,

Thanks for helping us out here. Trying to catch this particular comet early has been a toughie.

@Rob, Nice final image. I remember when we passed off Comet McNaught to you southern hemisphere observers back in January of 2007 it was bright as a flare through binoculars during twilight. I know it's not your fault you couldn't do the same for us with PanSTARRS. :grin:

@Ralph, congratulations on your sighting--it sounds to me like you saw it. :cool:

#221 Tonk

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Posted 10 March 2013 - 09:23 AM

Well I'm nuts! I'm setting off in 40 minutes to cross to the western side of the UK to try and catch the comet in a viable 15 minute window. Venue is a high hill overlooking the Irish Sea.

Why - because forecast is rubbish for the rest of the week - and when I did the same long distance expedition way back on 5th Jan 2007 I succeded in catching C/2006 P1 when it was only just bright enought to emerge from twilight when very low. I just want to see if I can repeat that experience!

#222 Tonk

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Posted 10 March 2013 - 09:29 AM

and Ive never seen a comet without a coma


Theres been a few - recently C/2011 W3 was almost comaless. You can't dismiss this just because you haven't experienced it. Its better to dimiss this if someone else has a validated image on the same date with a coma

Heres the recent comaless comet classic - http://i638.photobuc...es/1d5bf314.jpg

#223 Dave M

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Posted 10 March 2013 - 09:35 AM

Good luck Tony, i hope i can get another shot at seeing it on the 12th or 13th, but right now the weather looks iffy..

#224 blb

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Posted 10 March 2013 - 09:51 AM

Its not really supprising that no-one is seeing anything - a case of pulling trigger far too early. E.g. last night Pan-STARRS would have been 1/2 degree above horizon at start of nautical twilight at 40 N

Tonight its 2 degrees at start of NT, day after is 4 degrees at NT, then 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 degrees on 15th March


fizzle?


Certainly not - just everyone looking when its improbable to see.

I recon first observation below 40 N *might* be tonight - low probability. Better chance the day after - otherwise 12/13th will be much easier as very very thin moon is nearby


You are correct Tonk. Panstars just reached perihelion on March 9 and now heads north into view for us in the northern hemisphere. The earliest any one can expect to view this comet in the northern hemisphere is on the 10th of March when it sets about 15 minutes after the sun in a still very bright sky. So good luck trying to see it tonight. I too will be making an effort this evening, weather permitting, It is forcast to be cloudy the next three nights here.

#225 BrooksObs

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Posted 10 March 2013 - 10:09 AM

I likewise wish you good fortune in your trek, Tonk.

However, just a point of information: Comet's lacking distinct comae are all but non-existent in the literature. Comet Lovejoy was a Sungrazer and these are really a distinct class of objects that do, on occasion, become headless as a result of their complete disruption as they pass through the Sun's Roche Limit for these fragile bodies.

Big, bright, well developed comets like PanSTARRS simply do not experience such events and the recent reported sightings of PanSTARRS as just a "tail" streak are all just mistaken views of very distant jet con trails that look somewhhat like intense comet tails to the inexperienced. The lack of the anticipated far brighter head, or coma, give the mistaken sightings away.

Our skies have become so filled with commercial jets over the years that it has become almost impossible to view a sunset without seeing at least one or two examples at a time very low down in the twilight. So, beware of being tricked if your venture does meet with clear skies. ;)

BrooksObs






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