Another cold and windy session. The comet is fading slowly but seems easier to spot now that it’s rising.
It continues to be unusually cold and windy for the time of year. Used my car as a wind-blocker, but the wind still managed to unplug the powercable for the Polarie! The lightpollution of Amsterdam seemed worse than ever. This caused a nasty gradient on the images that took my 2 nights trying to figure out how to get rid of it. In the end Fitswork did the trick.
Another cold and windy night. Skies not as clear as 2 days earlier. Lots of light pollution. At the start of the session a nice meteor appeared. It’s persistent train is visible in subsequent images for more than 10 minutes.
Finally the moon was out of the way and the skies were clear. Earlier this week I was fighting the wind, trying to use my telescope (took me 45 minutes to find the comet). Tonight the wind was even stronger so I decided to use the Vixen Polarie Star Tracker. The Polarie performed flawless despite the strong winds (and temperatures just below freezing). Darker skies made the more easily visible in binoculars. The dust tail starts left of the nucleus and spans an area of over 100 degrees (clockwise).
The third night in a row with more or less clear skies. Had to wait till 18.50UT for the comet to appear from behind a cloud.
Tonight the comet was easier to spot due to better sky conditions. Still very windy and cold. The comet was briefly visible to the naked eye on 2 or 3 occasions.
My dad and I observed comet Panstarrs from the Oostvaardersdijk (52.4,5.2E) overlooking Amsterdam. Using 8.5×42 binoculars I first noticed the crescent Moon and quickly thereafter (18.15UT) spotted the comet. Managed to take a couple shots despite a very strong wind.
After months of mild and wet weather the temperature dropped below zero and the skies cleared. Koen and I wanted to check the modifications we made to our equipment so we headed for Public Observatory Bussloo. I made an adapter plate in order for the Vixen Polarie travel mount to be mounted on an AstroTrac wedge. The Manfrotto geared head 410 that I was using before, shows a considerable amount of flexture making precise polar alignment difficult. Bolted 2 pieces of aluminium together and mounted it on the Astrotrac wedge. Less flexture now, but still room for improvement. Comet C/2012 K5 (LINEAR) was shot with a Canon EOS60D, EF 135mm/2L @ 2.8, ISO1250, stack of 6 x 1min. Guided with the Vixen Polarie.
M45 was used for the first test sequence. Same equipment as above; stack of 22x1min.
After a visit to a local school (30 minute talks about Venus, Jupiter & Mars for 120 children and their parents) I returned to the observatory for an imaging session of comet Garradd. Skies were clear but a bit hazy, which became apparent when looking at the first photo’s; bright stars with nice halo’s. Garradd was passing by M81 and M82, so I used the 135m to frame both the comet and the galaxies.
I also tested the new Vixen Polarie star tracker. This very compact travel mount is shaped like a camera and runs on 2 x AA batteries or an USB power supply. A Manfrotto 410 geared head was used for mounting the Polarie and a Gitzo ballhead with Canon EOS 40D and EF 35/1.4mm was attached to the Polarie mounting block. I did a rough polar alignment by pointing the Polarie north and setting the correct latitude using the built-in tilt meter. Polaris could now be seen through the polar sight hole. No further polar alignment was done (a polar scope is optional). A 1m 45s test shot of Bootes does not show any trailing. Nice!