Comet-spotting in November 2013

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rwilkinson
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Comet-spotting in November 2013

Post by rwilkinson » Sat Oct 26, 2013 7:39 pm

I've just been preparing a chart for the November Bolton Astronomer showing the trajectories of four comets (ISON, Lovejoy, Encke and LINEAR) through our pre-dawn skies:
comets_nov13.png
Chart from C2A showing the daily postions of all four comets through the month of November
comets_nov13.png (56.33 KiB) Viewed 8351 times
None of them are particularly bright yet, but they should be just visible in binoculars against a dark sky.

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Re: Comet-spotting - a Messier challenge

Post by rwilkinson » Mon Nov 04, 2013 12:06 pm

Noting that Comet C/2013 R1 Lovejoy will be passing very close to the Messier 44 "Beehive" Cluster this week, this seems like a good opportunity for a picture.
lovejoy_m44.png
C2A graphic showing the comet's trajectory through Cancer this week. Markers show its position at 0hrs UT on each day.
lovejoy_m44.png (18.85 KiB) Viewed 8330 times
But if you're expecting poor weather here (or just want to stay in bed in the early hours), try requesting an image of M44 from the MicroObservatory Robotic Telescope Network in Arizona and Massachusetts (it's free!):
http://mo-www.harvard.edu/cgi-bin/OWN/S ... pl?id=MW15
The "Finder Cameras" on their 'scopes have a 10-degree field-of-view (as shown by the red square on the C2A graphic above), so if you can get a clear image during the middle of this week the comet should be included.
Or if you can get a sequence of images, then make an animation showing the comet moving in front of the background stars?

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Re: Comet-spotting in November 2013

Post by DRatledge » Tue Nov 05, 2013 3:34 pm

Following on from Ross's article in the newsletter and the above I received the observing report below from Andrew Robertson today. Remember he is observing from a very dark site in Norfolk and he is a very experienced observer.
.............................................................................................................................
Well chaps,

Talking of below and despite the odds had a brilliant little session last night. Too windy for Haw Wood and the large dob so decided to make use of the observatory - more sheltered. Got out early evening but it soon clagged over and I packed in. As the evening wore on the skies got progressively better (but still claggy) and with very strong gusts of winds - too windy even to risk opening the observatory (didn't fancy the idea of the roof lifting off!). So went to bed at half past M/N with a view to, 'I'll see what happens (knew I'd wake for a call of nature as I'd been drinking tea all evening). Sure enough at 2.30 am I woke to pretty good skies and the wind having eased a bit....

Was in the observatory and going by 3am, I do love the combination of the 12" Mewlon for reasonable deep sky views and the 4" Vixen apo atop for widedfield views.
Started off on M42 and whilst it didn't 'dazzle' me as in the 24" dob earlier in the week, very nice contrasting views between the 12" and 4"scopes.

Then straight up to LOVEJOY which was already about 42 degs altitude. This is by far the best of the bunch, so easy in the 4" scope that I got my binoculars out and sure enough easy direct vision in my 8.5 x 50 bins. In the Mewlon with 27 panoptic (x135) very nice indeed! But definitely NOT N/E!

Whilst waiting for ISON to get a bit higher, did a few OC's: M35, NGC 2158, Cr 89, M44, M67 again very nice switching between the two scopes.

ISON I could see in the 4" Vixen but I had to look for it. In the 12" Mewlon (27mm Panoptic x135) it had a bright nucleus with a tail extending across the FOV (1/2 deg?). Definitely NOT a small binocular object.

Whilst waiting for ENCKE and X1 to get a bit higher had a look at the peanut (2731/2) and the Eskimo at about x300 in the Mewlon - very nice but doesn't match the big dob (I'm getting spoilt).

ENCKE was probably my most disappointing view, I could see it in both scopes but just a relatively (compared to Lovejoy and X1) small fuzz. Yes a slightly larger 'fuzz' than ISON but without that long tail.

C/2012/X1 still very impressive but not nearly as so as a week ago. It's getting much larger and more diffuse now with a correspondingly lower surface brightness visually. Quite large in the Mewlon and observable in the 4".

About 4.50am now so went back up in altitude via all the comets then put the binoviewer in for a last half hour view of Jupiter. Lots of detail (x186), the GRS is very red with a trail of ovals behind it. Finnished observing at 0545 hrs, a very pleasant session.

Andrew
P.S. Interestingly I found myself switching between a 40mm Pentax and 27mm Panoptic in the Mewlon and a 30mm Tak LE and 20mm Pentax in the Vixen. In the Mewlon these equated to exit pupils of 3.33mm and 2.25mm and in the Vixen 3.33mm and 2.22mm respectively. In all instances I preferred the 27mm Panoptic and 20mm Pentax, i.e. exit pupils of 2.25mm.

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Re: Comet-spotting - a Messier challenge

Post by rwilkinson » Sat Nov 09, 2013 1:45 pm

rwilkinson wrote:try requesting an image of M44 from the MicroObservatory Robotic Telescope Network in Arizona and Massachusetts.
The "Finder Cameras" on their 'scopes have a 10-degree field-of-view, so if you can get a sequence of images, then make an animation showing the comet moving in front of the background stars?
Well, their telescope "Ben" in Cambridge, MA managed to capture four images of Comet Lovejoy passing through the M44 field:
http://mo-www.harvard.edu/ImageDirector ... 01227.FITS
http://mo-www.harvard.edu/ImageDirector ... 03329.FITS
(I guess it was cloudy on the 6th & 7th?)
http://mo-www.harvard.edu/ImageDirector ... 01827.FITS
http://mo-www.harvard.edu/ImageDirector ... 01827.FITS

So there's some great data to practice processing an animation (but it will only be available for download for the next couple of weeks).

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Re: Comet Lovejoy passing M44

Post by rwilkinson » Sat Nov 09, 2013 2:27 pm

This is my animation from the MicroObservatory data:
lovejoy_m44.gif
Animation of 4x 30-sec images from the Finder-camera of MO telescope "Ben" in Massachusetts
lovejoy_m44.gif (233.41 KiB) Viewed 8287 times
I did the processing IRIS, then added the markers in IrfanView and made the animation with unFREEz.

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Re: Comet-spotting in November 2013

Post by rwilkinson » Tue Nov 19, 2013 7:21 am

At last I've managed to see comet ISON! :D

I went out just after 6am with my 15x70 binoculars, and quickly found comet Lovejoy, high up in Ursa Major, among the Great Bear's feet.
Next I had a look for C/2012 X1 LINEAR .This should have been easy to find, being in the same binocular field as Arcturus, but with the sky illuminated by bright moonlight and the pre-dawn glow it was just too faint.
Finally I had a look for ISON. I could see Spica low down in the SE (in the gap between the trees and houses), and used the stars in Virgo to navigate to the comet. It was tricky to see through the murk and sky-glow, but was definitely there.

sread

Re: Comet-spotting in November 2013

Post by sread » Tue Nov 19, 2013 10:41 am

Well done Ross,
I was out myself but failed to spot it thru my 8x40 bins.
I had to drive to find a view of the south-eastern horizon.
I found Spica ok and even hung around until Mercury rose
but alas could not find Comet Ison.
I recently bought some Celestron 20x80 but find they
have excessive chromatic aberration. If I bring them along
tonight would you have a look and give me your experts opinion?

Steve Read

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Re: Comet-spotting in November 2013

Post by rwilkinson » Tue Nov 19, 2013 12:22 pm

After spotting the two comets with my binoculars, I set up the camera - but it was getting quite light by then (6:45am):
lovejoy_19nov.png
Comet Lovejoy on 19-Nov. 4x30-sec using Canon 300D with Pentax 135mm lens.
lovejoy_19nov.png (643.91 KiB) Viewed 8223 times
ison_19nov.png
Comet ISON on 19-Nov. 3x 10-sec using Canon 300D with Pentax 135mm lens.
The blob in the bottom right is a tree, and the diagonal stripe is the shadow of a telephone line.
ison_19nov.png (516.04 KiB) Viewed 8223 times

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Re: Comet-spotting in November 2013

Post by rwilkinson » Wed Nov 20, 2013 11:34 am

I've used FITS data from two robotic telescopes to get recent images of how the comets are developing:
ison_19nov.jpg
Comet ISON from telescope "Ben" in Cambridge, MA. Single 60-sec exposure.
ison_19nov.jpg (77.48 KiB) Viewed 8213 times
Lovejoy_20nov.jpg
Comet Lovejoy from Tenerife. 3x 60-sec with R, G & B filters through 180mm telephoto lens (Cluster Camera).
Lovejoy_20nov.jpg (155.69 KiB) Viewed 8213 times

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Re: Comet-spotting in November 2013

Post by DRatledge » Thu Nov 21, 2013 7:55 pm

Comet ISON
Taken by Juan Casado from Grand Canaria, the bright star is Mercury...
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