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Comet Lovejoy photo

Posted by Bret B on January 27, 2015, 6:15 pm

Back on Jan 15th, I finally got a chance to go out to look for Comet Lovejoy as it was passing the Pleiades star cluster. It wasn't too hard to find using a good tracking chart (see link below) and my binoculars. To the naked eye it was a faint small fuzzy blob, but to my camera the eerie greenish color of the head was obvious. The long striated blueish tail is not quite visible in the photo. This photo could not capture much faint detail since it was limited to about an 8 second exposure time. Any longer and the earth's rotation would have made the comet start to "trail" (or streak.)

I have an old hand-made hand-cranked tracking platform from my old film days, but it needs refurbished before I can use it. It would have counteracted the Earth's rotation well enough to allow the exposure time to be much longer (several minutes at least.) Oh well, maybe next comet...

Here is the annotated version:

And here is the unannotated version. Maybe you can just barely make out some of the tail:

And here is the unedited picture right out of the camera. You can see I needed to crop out my neighbor's looming apartment, and reduce the skyglow that exists even here in La Manzanilla:

Comet Lovejoy is slowly fading away night by night now, but here is the tracking chart:

This article has lots of good info about this comet, along with much better photos than mine: Good hunting!

For the camera nerds out there here are the technical details of my picture:
Nikon D5200 DSLR camera
Mikon 35mm f/1.8 lens used at f/1.8 (35mm focal length on my APS-C sized sensor corresponds to 50mm in the old 35mm film era)
Exposure time: 8 seconds
ISO: 6400
Some editing was done in Photoshop Elements


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