I love all things space and especially Comets! I was very young when Halley's Comet came around and thought is was the coolest thing ever, so I guess you could say my interest in space started with that comet in 1986. I have witnessed many other including Halle Bop, McNaught 2007, Holmes, Swann and more.
The photo above, was taken last night near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Comet Lovejoy (C/2014) Q2 is now easily visible with binoculars and with off the shelf consumer DSRL cameras.
Comet Lovejoy is rising in the southern sky a few hours after sunset. The best times to look are between 10pm and 2am. At this point, "Q2" is above the horizon and making it's way out of the lower levels of the sky where light pollution and hazy and obstruct your observations and imaging. If you are lucky enough to have dark skies in your backyard, you will not have to worry about that! Q2 is now in the constellation Columba moving into Lepus, just under the constellation Orion. Below is a finder chart.
Every night the Q2 will be positioned a little higher in the sky as it passes through the solar system. Mid January Q2 will be higher in the sky and possibly even brighter, we will have to see. The Moon will start to cause interference next week, so if you want to catch a glimpse I would do it this weekend. If you would like monitor the comet from home visit| The Sky Live | ( http://theskylive.com/c2014q2-info). Meanwhile, I hope that Q2 will look just as good or even better a month from now.
Some tips to see it and photograph it
- Sturdy Tripod
- DSLR and a lens between 50mm and 300mm
- Cable release to eliminate camera shake
- ISO 800 - 3200 , f/1.4 to f/4 @ 3"-30"
- If you want to eliminate star trails because you exposure is to long... increase your ISO and shorten your shutter speed.
- Take some test shots in the vicinity of the location of Q2
- Our camera will be able to see way more than us, so take those test shots and then check your LCD for a fuzzy little green ball
- Download Google Sky Map, It's FREE!! and will help you find any constellation or active meteor shower! Look between Columba and Lepus
Below is a photo of Comet Panstarrs in March of 2013. The comet got so bright that it could be seen in the sunset sky. Comets are unpredictable and I think that's is why I like them. Who knows what Q2 will do over the next month, I guess we will have to wait and see.
Comet Pan-Starrs and Telescope March 14th, 2013
I also had a chance to photograph some other beautiful objects like the Orion Nebula through the telescope. If you can't find the comet, you can always find Orion's Belt!
(Above) The Orion Nebula taken the same night through a telescope.
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