Comet Q2 Lovejoy on the first of January 2015

After a few days of intense snowing, and with great expectations for the 2014-2015 night, I’ve decided to try imaging the Winter’s Comet (C/2014 Q2 Lovejoy) from an elevation of 1000 meters, in the mountains, at Cota 1000 near Sinaia. On the road towards the selected location, I had the pleasure of observing a small Sun-pillar and the planet Venus after sunset…

pilar

venus

A second processing of one of the Venus shots revealed planet Mercury as well, very dim and closer to the horizon. Mercury will be rather close to Venus on January 10th, in just a few days. Until then, an image showing both inner planets, and their position in the image related to their names:

Venus and Mercury

The temperature at the location where the Venus shot was taken (at ~100 meters elevation) was around -15 degrees Celsius, so I was expecting around -20/-25 degrees up in the mountains.

Together with my wife, her brother and her parents, I’ve arrived at the Cota 1000 site around 10 PM, where, to my great surprise, the temperature was “only” -14 degrees Celsius.

This allowed us to set our equipment in reasonable conditions, despite the cold winds blowing from the North. The down-side of the local conditions was the terrific seeing conditions, which made focusing almost impossible.

Our setup was as follows: my wife had the TS APO Q65 Refractor (Diameter of 65mm, F.L. of 420mm) and her Canon 550D on an EQ 3-2 mount, while I had the TS APO 115 (Diameter 115mm, F.L. 800mm) and my Canon 550D on the NEQ-6 mount. We’ve both used 30 seconds sub-frames at ISO 3200.

The local conditions, with the Moonlight reflected by the snow, were quite surrealistic, so a wide-field shot was necessary. Luckily enough, the comet is visible in the shot also:

Q2 New Year

Both our results from the two instruments, placed side-by-side, showing the extent of the tail:

Two comets

And a black-and-white/positive-negative comparison of my shot (60x30s frames) showing the tail of the comet a little better:

Comparison

It will be at leas one more week until the Moon will stop interfering with the darkness of the Winter sky, and allow for some decent visual and photographic observations of the comet’s tail…

Max

(January 3, 2015)

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