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Lovely Lovejoy!

Well, my previous post was right – it certainly WAS a great night to look for Comet Lovejoy last night! Well, it was from here in Cumbria at least (for a change!): the sky was clear all evening – although it gave us a brief scare around 8pm when some high altitude clouds appeared, and we all thought “Don’t you dare!!!” – and by the time Stella and I made it up to the top of Shap, our preferred comet observing site because it is high, has an uncluttered horizon and not much light pollution, the sky was just fantastically clear, with not a hint of a wisp of cloud anywhere. Unfortunately there was a huuuuuge almost-Full Moon blazing overhead, blindingly-bright, so we knew we would have no chance of seeing Lovejoy with the naked eye s others have done, which was a shame. But hey, you learn to take what you’re given in astronomy (if you don’t you can drive yourself nuts, seriously!) so I set up the camera, and my small, 80mm Celestron Travelscope, and settled down to enjoy Lovejoy!

When we arrived at Shap we found a fellow Eddington Astronomical Society of Kendal member, Simon White, already there, and he had been taking pictures through his telescope for some time already. They looked fantastic on his iPad, and I can’t wait to see them when they’re all processed. s for myself, I was strictly low tech last night, just my DSLR camera on a tripod, and my little refractor, but both performed well and gave me great views of the comet.

In binoculars the comet really was just a classic “out of focus star”, faint against the bright background sky, but it stood out much more clearly with averted vision. Through the refractor the comet was bigger and clearer, but still almost washed out by that big bright Moon…

scope view

…so I spent most of our time there taking photos rather than looking at the comet, as there wasn’t that much to actually see, to be honest.

But my camera – an entry level Canon 1100D DSLR just mounted on a tripod, no star tracker at all – gave me some (I think!) really nice pictures. This is one of the frames, straight out of the camera, no processing (50mm f2,2 4 seconds, 1600 ISO exposure)…

single 50mm frame

The comet is that small green blur down in the bottom right. As you can see, it really does just look like an out of focus star. With some processing – again, just of that single image – it looks like this…

single 50mm frame processed

Ah yes, much better! The comet stands out a lot more now, doesn’t it? When processed a little more, that turns into this…

single 50mm frame processed ff ps…and the finished picture…!

single 50mm frame processed f credits

Yes, very pleased with that ­čÖé

Here are some of the other images from last night. Most of these are stacked images.

credits 1



IMG_2480 2fff

Yes, a good night. I’m looking forward to seeing the pictures Simon took, and the pictures another EAS member, Carol Grayson took. She joined us later, and from what I saw just on the back of her camera she got some good shots too.

…and now we have to wait, because the weather forecast for the coming week is *awful*. But in a way that’s okay, because while that Moon is in the way the comet is difficult to see and enjoy anyway. But by next weekend, when the Moon has moved out of the way, and when the comet is higher and at its closest to the Earth it should be an easy naked eye object from a dark site, so I’m sure we’ll be heading up to Shap again. Until then, keep checking back here for more finder charts and observing reports.


2 Responses

  1. […] im ├Ąu├čeren Asteroideng├╝rtel. Auch weitere mondige Beobachtungen von Komet Lovejoy am 3. Januar (mehr und mehr und eine Zeichnung), 2. Januar (mehr), 1. Januar und 31. und 28. Dezember, zwei […]

  2. Saw Lovejoy tonight over here in the US. In my little 70mm scope. Took a friend out to brave the cold with me and it didn’t seem like he was as excited as I was about catching a glimpse but all in all I’d say it was worth the frozen hands to get a look at my first comet!

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