Thursday, October 7, 2010

Stunning Astrophoto-Op Tonight: Comet Hartley and the Double Cluster

Comet Hartley and the Double Cluster this morning. Canon 30D, 2 minute exposure at ISO 400 with a Tokina 80-200 2.8 lens (review coming!) set to 100mm and f4. Image uncropped.

Throughout October, Comet Hartley will grace the sky for astronomers living in the Northern Hemisphere. Starting the month in Cassiopeia, the comet will move down through Perseus and Auriga by the time the month ends. During the course of October, the Comet is expected to brighten to around 4th magnitude, within the realm of naked-eye visibility, given the sky is dark.

While the comet will be hanging around all month, tonight and tonight only, it will be putting on a spectacular show the both observational and photographic astronomers will be able to savor when irt comes just within a degree of the Perseus Double Cluster?

Hint: get all your gear ready to go!

The great news about the comet is that it is well-placed in that it will be a virtually all-night object. So, whether you like to observe/shoot in the early evening before you go to bed or in the early morning just after you get up, the comet will be there.

Above is an Comet Hartley's approach to the Double Cluster this morning, which simulates where it will be tomorrow night, but on the opposite side of the cluster. By looking at the size of the comet right now, it is not out of the realm of possibility that the gas cloud will get into the Double Cluster itself, making for a truly stunning sight/photograph .

Clear skies and good luck!

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