Comet Panstarrs C/2011 L4
Emerging comet in Western sky at sunset
For March 16, 2013

Uploaded 3/13/13


 On This evening, we got off work an hour earlier to try to get set up to get one more view of this comet before the huge weather front moved in for the weekend. (again). It did not look too good driving home, but around 7pm when we were all set up on the top of our hill site, the western sky partially cleared and the comet sat clearly in a open patch between the clouds! Dawn had not seen the comet yet, and we both were up there on this Thursday night. Dawn spotted it first in the 9 x 63 binoculars, and as it got darker by 7pm the tail and head were easily visible naked eye. The magnitude was around 0 or 1 at this point, and the comet had a very distinctly yellow coloration being so low in the sunset sky. When the comet was at its best around 7:15 I was able to get in a sequence of 10 or so 10 second exposures to stack to reduce noise and increase comet details. This is certainly the way to go for such short exposures!

By 7:30 we watched the comet sink into the cloud layers low on the horizon, and vanish. We had a good night! The next night was totally overcast and this weekend as I write this does not look anywhere near promising.

Here is the setup on the top of the hill, on a currently abandoned road. The Televue mount which I bought at the RTMC years ago is still working great, on a Meade tripod. The Stellarvue SV80 with Zeiss optics (Lomo) is pre set for infinity focus, and on the top the huge white lens is the Canon 100-400L professional grade lens for wide angle work. Select an image size for a larger view: 1290 x 960
Here is the sky at the exact point of sunset. the comet will be appearing just below that small horizontal bar of clouds just above the sunset point in the clear. Talking about cutting it close! Select an image size for a larger view: 1290 x 960
zoom in on the sunset with a 200mm sigma lens. Not optimal for a comet! Select an image size for a larger view: 1290 x 960
Six second exposure of the comet with the Zeiss APO. it is equivalently 375mm at f/4.6. The blue sky around the comet is very bright. Select an image size for a larger view: 1290 x 960 1600 x 1200
The best view of the comet was at 7:15 or so, six 10 second exposures which was the max I could do without saturating the sky were averaged in Maxim DSLR aligning on the comets nucleus. Note the sharpness of the comet on the right side, and the diffuse fan like tail on the left. The comet is roughly 2 degrees long here. Select an image size for a larger view: 1290 x 960 1600 x 1200
Lens: 80mm f/4.6 Stellarfvue / Zeiss APO Platform: Televue GEM Exposure: 6 seconds, 60 seconds Location: Payson, Arizona Elevation: 5150 ft. Sky: Seeing 7/10, Transparency 5/10 Outside Temperature: 45F Processing Tools: Maxim DSLR, Photoshop CS2 HOME GALAXIES EMISSION NEBS REFLECTION NEBS COMETS GLOBULARS OPEN CLUST PLANETARIES LINKS