Two Comets in the
Morning sky
November 8th, 2013

Uploaded 11/8/13


 There are currently four fairly bright comets in the morning sky to image. However, Comet Linear X1 (exploding jellyfish) is very low and in the trees at 5:15 and Comet Encke is way below the trees even at bright twilight. The two that are visible are Comets Lovejoy, now at a naked eye 6th magnitude, and Comet ISON, currently around 8.5 for the head. Lovejoy is the star in the morning sky, I could see it very clearly in the 9x63 binoculars and it was gorgeous in the 11 x 80s. The comet is very bright green, and has a trace of a thin ion tail in some images.

Comet ISON is not doing well. The head is brighter no doubt than a week ago, but it is no where near naked eye, and I could only see the head in the binoculars, not a trace of the very low surface brightness strip like tail. It is now only 20 days from perihelion, and something better happen really fast if this is going to break naked eye brightness or more.

Both comets are moving quite fast! I cold not guide on the stars and exceed a minute exposure for each comet at a time without hopelessly blurring the comet as a streak. This pair of images are many such exposures combined in the digital darkroom to keep the comet stationary in the image, while the stars streak by. For those interested, the field here is roughly 3/4 of a degree wide.

Comet Lovejoy Note the bright fan pointing sun ward very near the nucleus and the thin ray like tail pointing to the right. This comet is really quite large! 60 mins total integration time. Select an image size for a larger view: 1290 x 960
Comet ISON This is the same magnification as the above shot of Lovejoy giving you a comparison. ISONs head is really small, not too concentrated with a super faint band like tail of dust. The comet is also right smack dab in the middle of the Zodiacal light, making it even harder. 30 minutes total integration time. Select an image size for a larger view: 1290 x 960
Lens: 12.5" f/5 Home bult Newtonian Platform: Astrophysics AP1200 Exposure: See box Location: Payson, Arizona Elevation: 5150 ft. Sky: Seeing 7/10, Transparency 9/10 Outside Temperature: 40F Processing Tools: Maxim DL, Photoshop CS2 HOME GALAXIES EMISSION NEBS REFLECTION NEBS COMETS GLOBULARS OPEN CLUST PLANETARIES LINKS