It's been awhile since there have been any bright comets in my night sky. Last night I was able to bag my 35th comet with the 10 inch Dob: C/2017 T2 PANSTARRS.
It wasn't particularly impressive but it did fall in the same field of view as the Perseus Double Cluster (with the 40mm eyepiece). At higher magnification (15mm eyepiece) the comet showed better contrast against the sky and looked, to my eye, like a slightly diffuse comma.
At the same time I was imaging the region with the 80mm refractor. The comet didn't move much during the 40 minutes I was getting pictures. The image below is a combination of stacking on the stars and on the comet separately and blending the images in Photoshop.
One of my new year resolutions was to do some variable star observations. I've been keeping track of the fainting of Betelgeuse for the last couple of months so it made sense to start with that. I submitted an estimate made last night to the AAVSO. My data point (the little orange cross on the right) is now part of the light-curve!
I had the star at magnitude +1.5. I'm looking forward to bagging some less well known and telescopic variables in the coming weeks.
The only reasonably bright comet in my sky is 2017 T2 PANSTARRS. I did a presentation at NASTRO recently and mentioned that PANSTARRS will make a close approach to the Perseus Double Cluster during late January.
Here's a finderchart for the comet showing its progress from now until early February.
During the last ten days of January the comet will pass within 1 degree (about 2 moon widths) the Double Cluster. A nice opportunity to find the comet visually or to frame it in a potentially great photo!
This isn't a spectacular comet visually. It will be around 9th magnitude so best views will be a with a telescope. It is expected to brighten to 8th magnitude by the Spring. At that point it should be detectable with good binoculars.
Further details at the links below:
My widefield astrophotography setup is an 80mm refractor (with pretty poor optics) and a modified Nikon D90. Last night was unexpectedly clear so I took the chance to get a couple of hours on some favourites in Orion. Here's the result!
I go for this region every winter but this is the first time I've been happy with the result. The difference has been the processing using Astropixel Processor, rather than Deepsky Stacker. Tonight also looks like being clear so I'll be hoping to get some more images - perhaps the Rosette Nebula or Cone Nebula in neighbouring Monoceros.
I'm definitely going to be more active here! Oh yes. The weather has been rubbish for astronomy since the end of October. In fact, I think there's only been three or four opportunities to do astrophotography since then.
Here are some the results from those few clear evenings over the winter so far!
With the moon returning to the evening sky in the next few days...I might not get a chance to take more deepsky images until late January.