Comet 81P/Wild

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Joined: Mon Oct 12, 2009 7:47 pm
Location: Bolton

Comet 81P/Wild

Post by rwilkinson » Mon Feb 29, 2016 8:11 am

This is the comet visited by the NASA Stardust mission a decade ago, which returned samples to Earth in 2006.

It's currently in Taurus (not far from the Crab Nebula) but not that bright: around 12th magnitude.
I captured an image of it earlier this month using a 10" iTelescope in New Mexico:

Then last night I tried to get it from my back garden with an 80mm refractor. I couldn't see the comet on each 90-sec exposure, but after stacking all seventy of them it appeared as a faint smear:
My stack of 70 frames show the comet's movement over the course of 2 hours.
81p_smear.jpg (117.42 KiB) Viewed 4368 times
So when I re-register the stack with the comet as a reference, it stands out against the background stars:
Comet Wild from Bolton on 28-Feb. 70x 90-sec using HX916 on 80ED at f/4.7.
81p_28feb.png (300.3 KiB) Viewed 4368 times
It was interesting that it was rather easier to get this 12th magnitude comet against the background of a dark-ish sky than the 9th magnitude 2013 X1 low down near the Western horizon, immersed in a haze of street-lighting:

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