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Dave Mitsky
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Re: Comet C/2011 L4 (PANSTARRS) new [Re: SabiaJD]
      #5770813 - 04/01/13 01:21 PM

There's a fantastic shot of the comet and M31 posted at http://spaceweather.com/gallery/indiv_upload.php?upload_id=80140

Be sure to enlarge the image.

Dave Mitsky


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rdandrea
Carpal Tunnel
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Re: Comet C/2011 L4 (PANSTARRS) new [Re: Dave Mitsky]
      #5770978 - 04/01/13 02:48 PM

Yeah that's a great shot, Dave. It's how I found the rapidly dimming comet last night in the murk and light pollution. I just found M31 in my 7x50s and looked one field down and a little to the left.

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Dave Mitsky
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Re: Comet C/2011 L4 (PANSTARRS) new [Re: rdandrea]
      #5772132 - 04/02/13 03:32 AM

I went to the Naylor Observatory on Monday evening to try to catch a glimpse of Comet PanSTARRS once again. I searched the region to the southwest of M31, which I could just barely see, with 8x42 and 15x70 binoculars and a 5" f/5 achromat but was unable to sweep up the comet. The sky was not terribly transparent but mostly clear, except for some low clouds in the northwest, which was the area where the comet was, of course.

I was also unsuccessful in detecting the faint supernova SN 2013am in M65 through the 17" f/15 classical Cassegrain at magnifications as high as 462x, although I didn't really expect to be able to see it.

Dave Mitsky


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Tonk
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Re: Comet C/2011 L4 (PANSTARRS) new [Re: Dave Mitsky]
      #5772166 - 04/02/13 04:58 AM

Drove into the Yorkshire Dales last night. Snow still 4 foot deep at side of roads in the gullies, now melting on exposed ground (worst snow in March since 1947 in parts of UK). The comet was picked up in binns at the tail end of twilight and remained an easy object until orographic clouds forming in lee of Great Whernside intruded. Photography only partially succesful due to said clouds (grrr)

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BrooksObs
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Reged: 12/08/12

Re: Comet C/2011 L4 (PANSTARRS) new [Re: Tonk]
      #5772605 - 04/02/13 11:06 AM

I offer below my final evaluation of Comet PanSTARRS' brightness behavior to date before going off to write-up my retrospective about this comet for a future issue of Sky & Telescope. It is noticed, somewhat even to my surprise, that comet 2011 L4 has brightened and subsequently faded exactly along the lines of the statistical "average" for all observed long period comets. This seemingly normal aspect comes in spite of PanSTARRS’ excessive dust to gas ratio that has resulted in it displaying a rather extraordinarily broad, short, tail in recent weeks. Still, overall it has proven a distinct disappointment, at least in my eyes. In fact, its general appearance has been rather like seeing a major comet in miniature and only a shadow of what had earlier been hoped for.



BrooksObs

Edited by BrooksObs (04/02/13 11:07 AM)


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nytecam
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Re: Comet C/2011 L4 (PANSTARRS) new [Re: Tonk]
      #5772762 - 04/02/13 12:07 PM Attachment (30 downloads)

Quote:

Drove into the Yorkshire Dales last night. Snow still 4 foot deep at side of roads in the gullies, now melting on exposed ground (worst snow in March since 1947 in parts of UK). The comet was picked up in binns at the tail end of twilight and remained an easy object until orographic clouds forming in lee of Great Whernside intruded. Photography only partially succesful due to said clouds (grrr)


Tony - you're a great comet chaser . Shot below from backyard obsy last night after dusk through neighbour's sparce birch-tree branches - stars to mag 14 recorded via my M12+SX Lodestar. The comet passes west of M31 soon for you Y-dangle guys

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Carol L

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Reged: 07/05/04

Loc: Tomahawk, WI 45N//89W
Re: Comet C/2011 L4 (PANSTARRS) new [Re: nytecam]
      #5773641 - 04/02/13 06:31 PM

I saw the comet again last night (April 1) at about 8:20 CDT from behind the house using 11x70 binoculars. Got M31, too - neither was too difficult to see once they were located. Checking the weather, it looks like tonight and Thursday might be the last chances for about a week.

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Tonk
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Re: Comet C/2011 L4 (PANSTARRS) new [Re: Carol L]
      #5773911 - 04/02/13 08:13 PM

Quote:

Tony - you're a great comet chaser




Errr oh dear - cover blown - just got back from a trip out to the high ground in the Forest of Bowland - and this time I got 2 hours worth of images. Just getting 2 hours sleep before heading off to the Eastern Yorkshire Dales (Pately Moor) to get it for its morning apparation - clouds willing.

Totting up - thats 1200 miles traveled so far and observed comet on 5 occassions out of 11 trips - imaged on 4


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Dave Mitsky
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Re: Comet C/2011 L4 (PANSTARRS) new [Re: Tonk]
      #5774168 - 04/02/13 09:34 PM

I'm at the Naylor Observatory at the moment. Well, I struck out again. The sky was clear just about everywhere except where M31 and the comet were positioned. I wasn't even able to catch a glimpse of M31 tonight. I could see M34 well enough through my 15x70s and the 17" classical Cassegrain, however.

Dave Mitsky


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stevecoe
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Re: Comet C/2011 L4 (PANSTARRS) new [Re: Dave Mitsky]
      #5774498 - 04/03/13 12:10 AM Attachment (42 downloads)

Howdy all;

I am at Tom and Jeannie Clark's house about 30 miles north of Deming, New Mexico. A nice night, the wind finally stopped blowing dust around and I got a chance to see and image the comet. I picked it up in 8X42 binoculars and from this latitude there is a short window in which to view comet Panstarrs. It is about one degree in size with the small binoculars. This image is with a 135mm lens at f/4 and a 12 second exposure.

Clear skies;
Steve Coe

Edited by stevecoe (04/03/13 12:11 AM)


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magic612
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Re: Comet C/2011 L4 (PANSTARRS) new [Re: stevecoe]
      #5775669 - 04/03/13 02:02 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.com/Blog/tabid/80/EntryId/130/Messier-31-and-Comet-PANSTA...


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DaddyBear123
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Reged: 06/18/12

Re: Comet C/2011 L4 (PANSTARRS) new [Re: magic612]
      #5775862 - 04/03/13 03:50 PM

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

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DaddyBear123
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Reged: 06/18/12

Re: Comet C/2011 L4 (PANSTARRS) new [Re: DaddyBear123]
      #5775870 - 04/03/13 03:56 PM Attachment (59 downloads)

Panstarrs

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Dave Mitsky
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Re: Comet C/2011 L4 (PANSTARRS) new [Re: DaddyBear123]
      #5776715 - 04/03/13 11:00 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.

Dave Mitsky


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dan777
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Reged: 11/16/07

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Re: Comet C/2011 L4 (PANSTARRS) new [Re: DaddyBear123]
      #5776722 - 04/03/13 11:07 PM Attachment (24 downloads)

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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Tonk
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Loc: Leeds, UK, 54N
Re: Comet C/2011 L4 (PANSTARRS) new [Re: dan777]
      #5777207 - 04/04/13 09:18 AM

I'm obsessed and need help ...



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


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swalker
Imaging Editor - Sky & Telescope
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Reged: 01/22/07

Loc: 42.9225°N, 71.2242°W
Re: Comet C/2011 L4 (PANSTARRS) new [Re: Tonk]
      #5777518 - 04/04/13 12:03 PM

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.

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stevecoe
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Re: Comet C/2011 L4 (PANSTARRS) new [Re: Tonk]
      #5778062 - 04/04/13 04:23 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


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Tonk
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Reged: 08/19/04

Loc: Leeds, UK, 54N
Re: Comet C/2011 L4 (PANSTARRS) [Re: stevecoe]
      #5778138 - 04/04/13 05:02 PM

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

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RolandosCY
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Reged: 01/02/09

Loc: Nicosia, Cyprus
Re: Comet C/2011 L4 (PANSTARRS) [Re: Tonk]
      #5778958 - 04/05/13 03:36 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...


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