Incoming! (Comet P/2016 BA14)

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rwilkinson
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Incoming! (Comet P/2016 BA14)

Post by rwilkinson » Wed Mar 02, 2016 10:11 am

On the 22nd of this month there will be the fourth-closest known approach of a comet to Earth (only beaten by events in 1999, 1770 and 1366!).
But comet P/2016 BA14 (PanSTARRS) is predicted to miss us by a comfortable 2.2 million miles, so there's no need to duck! ;)

However it's a very small object, and so will probably only reach 13th magnitude - see Seiichi Yoshida's web-page:
http://www.aerith.net/comet/catalog/201 ... 6BA14.html

And there's a nice 3D animation of its orbit on the JPL Small-Body Database:
http://ssd.jpl.nasa.gov/sbdb.cgi?sstr=2016%20BA14;orb=1
(you'll need to enable Java-scripts to see this in your browser)

And by an extraordinary coincidence, the 7th-closest cometary approach (252P/LINEAR) will happen the previous day - but that won't be visble from the Northern hemisphere.

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Re: Incoming! (Comet P/2016 BA14)

Post by rwilkinson » Tue Mar 22, 2016 9:46 am

I'd set up a program on the 10" iTelescope T5 in New Mexico to take a tracked 5-minute image overnight, and there is a "static" object in this field, close to the comet's expected position:
p2016ba14_22mar.png
P/2016 BA14 on 22-Mar. 5-min with 250mm f/3.4
p2016ba14_22mar.png (436.82 KiB) Viewed 3806 times
It doesn't look much like an ethereal coma-shrouded comet does it? It's much more like a very hard asteroid - thank goodness it missed us (this time)!
And those star-trails over just five minutes show how quickly it was moving across our sky.

Incidentally, those little "bumps" in all the star-trails must be due to a little periodic error in their Paramount PME.

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Re: Incoming! (Comet 252P)

Post by rwilkinson » Tue Mar 22, 2016 7:11 pm

I mentioned that yesterday's close approach of comet 252P/LINEAR was only visible from the Southern hemisphere.
Well, I didn't manage to catch it then, but I have just got a picture of the comet from this evening (actually tomorrow morning, their time!), using iTelescope T13 in New South Wales:
252p_22mar.png
Comet LINEAR on 22-Mar. 5x 1-min with 90mm f/4.5.
252p_22mar.png (295.24 KiB) Viewed 3790 times
I was intending to do a single 5-min exposure tracking the comet, but there was a formatting error in my automatic script-file.
However since I was folllowing the system in real-time I was able to step in and request a series of 5x 1-min exposures instead.

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Re: Incoming! (Comet 252P)

Post by rwilkinson » Wed Mar 23, 2016 4:13 pm

The camera on iTelescope T13 is actually a one-shot colour type; so now that I've worked our how to decode its 3D-FITS format (using ImageJ), I've been able to make this full-colour animation of comet 252P/Linear tracking through the constellation Ara from yesterday's data:
252p_22mar.gif
5-frame time-lapse animation of comet 252P from 22-Mar
252p_22mar.gif (1.08 MiB) Viewed 3782 times
Last edited by rwilkinson on Wed Mar 23, 2016 8:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Incoming! (Comet 252P)

Post by rwilkinson » Wed Mar 23, 2016 6:57 pm

rwilkinson wrote:I was intending to do a single 5-min exposure tracking the comet
Well, I got it right at the second attempt:
252p_23mar.png
Comet 252P/LINEAR on 23-Mar. Single 5-min tracked exposure using iTelescope T13 in New South Wales.
252p_23mar.png (655.94 KiB) Viewed 3778 times

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