Friday, March 15, 2013

Hunt for Comet PanSTARRS

A relatively bright comet usually provides a good opportunity to look at a naked eye object from the Oort cloud. The case with Pan-STARRS is a bit different. Although it is supposed to be a naked eye visible object, its current location prevents any sighting without an optical instrument. Being too near the sun, finding it is difficult due to the sun's glare. However, a small window exists to provide us some recording chance. A day earlier, I did a few blind shots at the intended target, but only 1 frame turned up with the comet's image. It was really bad too.

To find the comet, one must be prepared and ready before the sky turns completely dark. One should start searching as soon as the sky turns dark gray. Instead of spotting the comet with the help of a binocular, I opted instead to just try to image it. I pointed my camera at a probable location and start shooting a 3 seconds exposure. After a frame or 2, I managed to spot the comet. After the comet is captured on a frame and setting the camera angle a bit to center the target, I started shooting many frames.

The composite result turned out pretty okay for me, but I think some improvements can still be done. I have a digiscoped setup for longer shots, but it seems the clear window wasn't enough to do more shots. If given another chance with a clear sky, I will attempt a higher magnification shot.

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