2014-12-22

Lovejoy's tail with binoculars

Third Lovejoy observation, and the comet improved further: Last night I glimpsed C/2014 Q2's faint tail with 10x50 binoculars using averted vision while benefiting from a very dark (fst. >6mag) sky in southern Chile again. It looked like a pale, straight line. The coma was easily visible naked eye as a blurred star, with binoculars I estimated its brightness to 5.7mag and its diameter to 20'.

Lovejoy is heading due north, passing through Columba and Lepus. There have been positive reports from southern and even central Europe, where the comet is still low in the sky.

Looking at my first image last night (200mm lens, Canon 600D DSLR, 120s, ISO 3200, f/4.0), a bright elongated speck made me think of a disconnection event first, but it was just 11.7mag galaxy NGC 2188 hiding behind the tail.

Hiding behind the tail in this image, galaxy NGC 2188 made me think of something interesting going on in the tail.

My camera recorded frames for almost an hour, this is the final result:

Stack of 24 frames with 120s exposure each. Stacking, dark frame subtraction and flattening with Fitswork, levels corrected with Photoshop.
A comparison with my last image shows how Lovejoy has evolved during the past week. The tail is much more visible now:

Comparison of two raw frames taken within six days. Different f-stops corrected with Photoshop
Looking for finder charts? See Sky&Telescope's website for wide angle charts, or download this set of detailed pdfs by amateur astronomer Andreas Schnabel (don't be scared of the German, the charts are readable in any language).

Clear Skies!

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