Comet 15P/Finlay near Mars – December 24, 2014

Not too much ago, in October, we had a similar comet/planet meeting in the evening skies. Now, another comet is grazing (this time only apparently) the planet Mars. The rather faint periodic comet 15P/Finlay had an outburst in mid-December and that made it more easily visible and thus photogenic even in smaller instruments.

The images below were acquired in the evening of December 24, on some rather good skies (after almost a month of clouds and fog) for my location, when together with my brother-in-law, I’ve decided to get my re-arranged equipment back in the field (a lot of repairs and refurbishing was necessary for both mount and tripod, but also some new accessories for the refractor).

All images below were acquired with the TS APO 115 F/7 Refractor and Canon EOS 550D in the focal plane. For the comet, ISO 1600 was used with an exposure time per frame of only 20 seconds.

The first image shows the movement of the comet during a 30 minute period, from 15:55 to 16:25 U.T. Mars is the overexposed ball near the center of the image, while the comet shows as a diffuse line.

15P Finlay a

The second image, a color one this time, shows the comet fixed in relation to Mars, and the stars “warp”-by, due to the processing method (alignment of the frames on the comet’s nucleus). The green-cyan color of the comet is visible:

15P Finlay b

And a grayscale version of the above:

15P Finlay c

Nice first-session after a rather long period of closed skies.

I’ll follow soon with an HDR image of the Moon from the same session.

Max

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