Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Comet C/2012 K1 (PANSTARRS)

Comets are in the news lately as C/2012 K1 PANSTARRS is now bright enough for viewing in small telescopes, and a new meteor shower is predicted for the night of May 23/24 as Earth passes through the debris trail of Comet 209P/LINEAR. I caught a break in the weather on May 18, 2014 before the Moon rose to capture a few images of C/2012 K1 PANSTARRS. This is not the same PANSTARRS comet that reached naked-eye visibility in 2013.

Comet C/2012 K1 PANSTARRS; ST80 on Vixen SP; Canon EOS Rebel T3; 8x120 @ ISO-1600
The bright star in the upper-right is Chi Ursae Majoris, located near the bowl of the Big Dipper. The edge-on spiral galaxy at top center is NGC 3877.

This image is a composite of two separate sets of images. I stacked one set of the original subs with the comet digitally removed to get a clear image of the background stars and galaxy. Then, I stacked the same subs centered on the comet to get a clearer image of it. Finally, the two images were combined in Photoshop CS6.

Also, I used a trial copy of BackyardEOS during this session. Normally, I would use the Canon EOS Utilities that came with my camera to control it from the computer, but my laptop recently suffered a hard drive failure and I haven't been able to locate the install disk. I've heard and read about BackyardEOS for some time, so I thought I'd give it a whirl. So far, I'm very impressed. It has a lot of great features and is, of course, custom-made for astronomical imaging. Maybe this will be my Father's Day present. :)

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