Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Comet Machholz in the early evening sky

Comet Machholz is a fairly bright comet that can be seen quite easily in the early evening in North America. In particular, in areas where the night sky is nice and dark. Unfortunately, I live quite close to the downtown of Vancouver, BC, and the sky is heavily light polluted. I could just make out the comet high in the SE sky at about 8:00pm through my small 9x25 binoculars.

I have never taken a photo of a comet before, and despite the large streetlight 5 metres away from our balcony, I thought I would give it a go.

The photo below is the result of stacking 16 shots taken with a Canon Digital Rebel camera (with 100mm lens @ f3.5, 2.5 seconds, 1600 ISO) using a program called Registar (which works like magic at aligning images), together with a little adjustement of levels in Photoshop. As a first attempt I think its reasonable - the comet is the little greenish fuzzball in the lower right of the image. I would have liked to capture at least a hint of the ion and dust tails, so maybe I'll try again tomorrow night, weather permitting...

Comet Machholz approaching the Pleiades star cluster.


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