Comet C/2014 S2 (PanSTARRS)

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rwilkinson
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Comet C/2014 S2 (PanSTARRS)

Post by rwilkinson » Wed Sep 16, 2015 7:20 am

This comet was discovered almost a year ago by the Panoramic Survey Telescope & Rapid Response System (an innovative wide-field imaging project at the University of Hawaii), and reaches perihelion at the start of December.

It was originally predicted to reach 12th magnitude at best, however a few recent observations have put it at magnitude 10.8 and 10.6. At the moment it's well up in the Northern sky and heading toward Polaris, so last night I set up my long-neglected (since I got my my ED refractors) C8 SCT to have a look for it. With my old MX516 camera this system has quite a small field-of-view, but I finally managed to get it onto the CCD and track it for 45 minutes before bed-time:
c2014s2_15sep.png
Comet 2014 S2 from Bolton on 15-Sep. 44x 1-min using MX516 on C8 at f/3.3.
c2014s2_15sep.png (88.91 KiB) Viewed 8523 times

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Spot the comet?

Post by rwilkinson » Wed Sep 23, 2015 6:31 am

Here's a picture which I took last night, looking for Comet PanSTARRS:
ngc1184&friend.png
NGC1184 on 22-Sep. 40x 30-sec using HX916 on 70ED at f/4.6
ngc1184&friend.png (236.04 KiB) Viewed 8486 times
When I registered this image on the stars in the usual way, another "faint fuzzy" appeared near the middle of the frame: this turned out to be a distant spiral galaxy, NGC1184. This is listed as 12th magnitude, so I was quite surprised to see it on 30-sec exposures with my little 70mm refractor (although I was operating from a dark site in the Wye Valley, and without a LPR filter).

But after re-processing to register the images on the comet, its structure becomes clearer, whilst the background stars and galaxy are slightly smeared:
c2014s2_22sep.png
C/2014 S2 on 22-Sep. 40x 30-sec using HX916 on 70ED at f/4.6
c2014s2_22sep.png (197.57 KiB) Viewed 8482 times
The original image-sequence was taken with the 'scope on a simple Alt-Az GoTo mount (Celestron NexStar): with 30-sec exposures the field-rotation on each is slight, and its effect across the whole 30-min sequence is taken care of by the Global matching registrtation in IRIS.

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Re: Comet C/2014 S2 (PanSTARRS)

Post by rwilkinson » Thu Oct 15, 2015 7:20 am

Here's a picture from last night, taken from the Wye Valley using my little 70mm refractor on a Celestron NexStar alt-az mount:
c2014s2_14oct.png
C2014S2 on 14-Oct. 32x 90-sec using HX916 on TS70ED refractor at f/4.6
c2014s2_14oct.png (166.05 KiB) Viewed 8378 times
It's certainly bigger and brighter than it was three weeks ago

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Re: Comet C/2014 S2 (PanSTARRS)

Post by rwilkinson » Fri Oct 23, 2015 6:23 am

I managed to capture another image of the comet yesterday evening: it's still in Ursa Minor, so well-placed throughout the night.
The sky was a little hazy, and a band of cloud came through at one point (hence the gap in the star-trails).
c2014s2_22oct.png
Comet PanSTARRS from Bolton on 22-Oct.
31x 1.5-2-min using HX916 on 80ED at f/4.6.
c2014s2_22oct.png (361.05 KiB) Viewed 8339 times
Compared with last week's picture, this one was taken with a slightly larger 'scope, but with a light-pollution filter fitted.

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Comet imaging on a cloudy night

Post by rwilkinson » Sun Nov 08, 2015 8:37 am

At 8:30pm I thought that it was going to be another of those nights - I'd set up my 'scope and camera, got it focused and found my target (comet C/2014 S2), but no sooner had I taken the first image than the clouds rolled over! :roll:
But the cloud-cover was patchy, so I did my best to synchronise my 90-sec exposures with the gaps in them (and the drifting smoke from nearby firework displays). And then after an hour the clouds disappeared, but the lower air was still a little smoky (as I could see from the cones of light under the streetlights).

Therefore I wasn't expecting much from the evening's data, so I was pleasantly surprised when I came to stack it - 35 of my 47 frames were usable:
c2014s2_7nov.png
C/2014 S2 on 7-Nov. 35x 90-sec using HX916 on SW80ED at f/4.6,
c2014s2_7nov.png (307.71 KiB) Viewed 8283 times
This comet PanSTARRS is certainly brighter than its namesake (C/2013 X1), so even though it's rather lower in the sky (currently near Kochab in Ursa Minor), it's a more rewarding subject, showing a distinct tail.

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Re: Comet C/2014 S2 (PanSTARRS)

Post by rwilkinson » Mon Nov 09, 2015 12:31 pm

Last night I fitted my old Atik 16IC one-shot colur camera onto my C8 SCT and managed to squeeze in 28 exposures between the clouds:
c2014s2_8nov.png
C/2014 S2 on 8-Nov. 28x 60-sec with 16IC on C8 at f/3.3.
c2014s2_8nov.png (255.47 KiB) Viewed 8256 times
At least there was no bonfire smoke swirling around, like on Saturday night.
And that's three consecutive nights of comet-imaging - almost unheard-of for Bolton!

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Re: Comet C/2014 S2 (PanSTARRS)

Post by rwilkinson » Thu Nov 12, 2015 9:15 am

Here's another picture of the comet from last night. It's still in Ursa Minor, and I took this imaging run in the course of experiments with different spacings between my focal-reducer and CCD:
c2014s2_11nov.png
Comet 2014 S2 on 11-Nov. 30x 60-sec using HX916 on C8 at f/3.9
c2014s2_11nov.png (305.51 KiB) Viewed 8242 times

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Re: Comet C/2014 S2 (PanSTARRS)

Post by rwilkinson » Thu Dec 31, 2015 11:09 am

This morning the Bradford Robotic Telescope Galaxy Camera managed to get a picture of this comet:
c2014s2_31dec.png
Comet 2014 S2 on 31-Dec. 3x 120-sec (through B, V & R filters) using C14 at f/5.3 (BRT Galaxy Camera)
c2014s2_31dec.png (120.14 KiB) Viewed 8167 times

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Re: Comet C/2014 S2 (PanSTARRS)

Post by rwilkinson » Sat Jan 09, 2016 10:18 am

This comet is fading now (down to 9th magnitude) and heading South through Draco, so it's low in the evening sky.
But the BRT Galaxy Camera managed a picture of it on Thursday:
c2014s2_7jan.png
Comet 2014 S2 on 7-Jan. 3x 60-sec (through B, V & R filters) using C14 at f/5.3 (rescaled 0.75x).
c2014s2_7jan.png (126.32 KiB) Viewed 8130 times

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Re: Comet C/2014 S2 (PanSTARRS)

Post by rwilkinson » Mon Feb 15, 2016 7:54 am

Last night there was no haze, but the Moon was higher in the sky, so it was still not good for imaging faint targets.
Nonetheless, I had a go at comet 2014 S2 PanSTARRS, which I've been following for five months now. It's moving very slowly through Draco, so it's quite low in the sky (certainly compared to Comet Catalina) in the evenings.
But I must have hit the sweet-spot with my polar alignment and scope-balancing, as I was managing unguided exposures of 3-minutes with my old CG5-AGT mount (usually 90-sec is its limit).
c2014s2_14feb.png
C/2014 S2 on 14-Feb, 24x 3-min with HX916 on 80ED at f/4.7
c2014s2_14feb.png (245.03 KiB) Viewed 7958 times

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