Comet C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy) – 06/01/2015
First object of 2015!
This is Comet C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy) – more better known at the moment as Comet Lovejoy. It’s currently a Magnitude 4(ish) object to the west of Orion. It’s visible in binoculars and small scopes as a fuzzy blob, though I haven’t heard of anyone picking up it’s fairly faint tail as of yet. It showed itself fairly well visually in my 70ED, though again, no tail to speak of.
I imaged it using the Celestron C8, with f/6.3 focal reducer, using the astro-modified Canon 1100D at ISO 800, with a CLS clip filter. It’s made up of 60x 30s exposures (unguided), with darks and bias frames. Unfortunately, the dew magnet that is my c8 decided to put a stop to me making flats, by dewing right over before I had the chance. The resulting stack in deep sky stacker shows of the greenish colour well. It also shows up the elusive tail. In Deep Sky Stacker, I used the ‘comet’ function to mark the position of the comet in each frame, as it actually moved a fair bit during the 30 minutes I spent imaging it. this actually trails the stars, but in this case, more or less eliminated them from the image for some reason! I’ll get a time lapse up that shows this motion when I get a sec.
The bright more-or-less full moon hampered my efforts to get more contrast to show the tail up better. When the background is this bright, the object itself is less ‘different’ to the background colour it sits on, meaning that the usual method of stretching the tones to bring out detail doesn’t work as well, as it simply stretches the whole image. making it all brighter. It’s a case of getting the balance right.
The lack of flats also made sure that the end stack was really badly vignetted and had a huge gradient! I had to crop heavily to get rd of that. But hey-ho! I got it! I’m looking forward to having another go later in the month when the comet is higher. there are plenty of guides for how to find it over the next few weeks/months – a quick search will pull up something that should help.