Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Wednesday Morning's Comet Lulin

While I'm not a morning person, I do suffer from a bit of insomnia and sometimes have a hard time getting back to sleep after a 4am bathroom visit. But these days it may be a good thing as comet 2007N3 Lulin is in prime observing position then.

Since my only shot of it was with a normal lens last Friday, was time to get it in a darker sky. Interestingly, we've been getting lots of hits as word of Lulin gets out - google has pointed lots of people to the blog wanting to see comet pictures. Unfortunately, this will not be a spectacular apparition, but will be brighter than your average comet, as it should attain naked eye visibility (barely!) in a month or so.

So this morning at 5am, I set up my little tracking mount and shot the comet with a 200mm lens (Canon XSi w/Canon 80-200 zoom at F/3.2 - stack of 10 -30 second exposures). Even with Tucson's sky glow and the high clouds that blew through, I didn't have to use imagination that I saw it in binoculars, it was definitely there, but still small and fuzzy. It was readily apparent in the camera display, but with only the 8" focal length, no details like those showing up at's gallery. With good weather in the forecast, I will need to head out towards the weekend with the 14" Celestron... Fortunately, though currently almost 100 million miles away, in 4 weeks it will be a mere 40 million miles, thus will appear about 2.5 times bigger and at least that much brighter. For those of you who want to try finding it in binoculars to the upper right of Scorpius the next few mornings, check out the Sky and Telescope article. Good hunting!

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