The Comet and the Moon – January 7, 2015
A superb evening of comet observations under the Moonlight. This is how I could summarize the two hours of photographing comet C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy) in one sentence.
Together with Claudiu, my long-time friend and Space enthusiast, I’ve went to the Comana Woods under a clear sky with freezing temperatures (-14 degrees Celsius), to catch comet Lovejoy before the Moonrise. Despite arriving with 30 minutes in advance, the actual “shooting” for the comet began only 10 minutes before the Moon started to fill the sky with it’s light. But, due to the very clear atmosphere, we still saw the comet with the naked eye even after the Moon was getting 10 degrees up above the horizon.
The view through 20×80 binoculars and a small 60mm refractor showed only the bright Mag. +4 head, while the tail was visible only on the 120 second shots with a 65mm F/6.5 APO refractor and Canon 550D. 18 such shots were eventually combined into a single image showing the complex tail of this lovely comet.
The scene of the imaging session was the better show for the night: the Moon with Jupiter near-by rising in the East, Orion up towards the South, and comet Lovejoy visible to the right of Rigel. The image below (a panoramic shot using 6 images acquired with the Canon 550D camera and a Canon 18-55mm lens at 15 sec and ISO800) shows just that, with the “observers” looking towards the comet, while the main imaging setup was getting covered by ice crystals:
And the same shot with the comet’s position marked, and some other objects (heavenly or otherwise) named as well, plus an inset with the comet’s image (resulted from a series of 18x120s frames at ISO1600 through the 65mm APO refractor) showing the tail of the comet rather well despite the intense Moonlight:
Next time, the Moon will not interfere, so I expect a far better image of this Winter-comet.