Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Following Comet PanSTARRS

Click on the images for a larger view

I have been having a lot of fun these last couple of weeks with comet panSTAARS.  The image above was taken on March 18, about 8:30 p.m.  Just as the camera shutter opened for 2.5 seconds, a car's headlights lit up the road and the houses. Normally, headlights are not what I want to see, but in this case it was a happy  to have them. The lens used was my 70-200mm f/2.8 Canon, ISO 1600 and +2/3 exposure compensation.

Although this comet is not as bright as it was hoped to be, I've never seen it without optical aid, it is good enough to capture with a few seconds of exposure and will be in the northwest evening skies heading further north every day. Unfortunately, as it climbs higher in the sky it is also moving away from us and getting fainter. During the last part of May the comet will be about 5 degrees away the North Star.

The above image was taken 5 days earlier, but with more clouds in the sky. This was a 2 second exposure using my 70-200mm f/2.8 Canon lens at 70mm, ISO 800. The shots I took from both days were used to make a time lapse video. You can see it on YouTube here.

The first picture I took of the comet was March 12.  At this time a 1.5 day old moon was just to the right of the comet making for a nice composition. Notice what looks like a star with a shadow above the comet. This is actually an airplane. The airplane and a flock of geese can be seen flying in this time lapse on YouTube I created from that day.

On the same evening, using my 300mm f/4 lens I took the image above which shows the planet Uranus below the comet. They look fairly close together, but in fact are very far apart. The comet was 104 million miles from us and Uranus was 1,953 million miles away.