Sunday, January 6, 2013

Hunt for Comet C/2012 K5 Linear

I've been very busy with birding that I missed checking some internet sites about upcoming comets and other events. When a local astronomy enthusiast posted some information about comet C/2012 K5 Linear, I got excited. I was in the province a few days ago, but I wasn't able to check on the sky that much even though the sky's supposed to be darker there. It's probably too late now that I'm already back in Metro Manila, I have to contend myself with a much less favorable sky condition.

The first thing I checked before searching the comet is to get a location chart. After getting a semi-detailed location info, I proceed to my observation deck on Friday night (2012-01-04) with a 15x70 binocular and my imaging setup: ST-80 on a CG-4 mount, eyepiece bag and my trusty Canon Powershot A590 camera. Scanning the sky with my bins, I failed to detect any trace of the usual smudge in the sky. I only saw the 3 beautiful cluster in Auriga. Not satisfied, I setup my scope and took some relatively short exposures of 15sec at ISO1600. Moving slightly along the supposed location after every shot, I managed to get a hint of the blur in one frame. With the comet's location found, I started the longer exposures. A few hours later, after processing and combining the images, the result can be seen below.

The comet appears to shift a bit in every 32sec exposure (32s + 32s dark frame) I made. The result shows the background stars streaking, an indication that this is a fast-moving comet.

Two days later (2013-01-06), I took another composite of the comet. This time using shorter and less frames since I didn't get the polar alignment accurate enough.

I also made a timelapse animation of the motion of the comet.

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