Comet Lovejoy Photography in San Benito County

Jan 13/14, 2015

Weather's been very frustrating since this comet appeared - either we had clean skies but a big moon and low comet, or we had cirrus clouds. Finally, the prediction was for a clean clear moonless sky, and the decision was made to make the most of it - going to south San Benito County, which promised very dark skies. It's a long tough drive, though - 100 miles from Santa Cruz and the last 20 are pretty slow and windy on crummy roads. I arrived at sunset, just after Kirk and JP got to the parking lot. Chris arrived 30 minutes later, and Ann and Merritt later at night.

Just a day past the nicest Venus + Mercury conjunction I had ever seen. The pair was only about 1 degree apart in this telephoto image

Kirk admires the pitch black sky, and the zodiacal light column in the west

JP and Kirk, the 12" scope, and Venus and Mercury just setting behind the distant hill

JP set up his 17" scope, which was a real treat to see the comet


A stack of the first 8 5-minute images (40 min of total exposure) on the 8" f/4 Schmidt-Newtonian telescope with SBIG ST4000xcm CCD camera at -30C chip temperature, stacked in Registax 5.1, processed in Photoshop including Astronomy Tools Photoshop Actions


The 8" f/4, with Ann taking over the imaging sequencing while I stretch and grab a few panorama shots

Moonrise at 1:45am. The dew and cold had taxed to the max our batteries' ability to de-fog lenses and corrector plates and to power my computer. It was time for sleep.

My ice-covered SBIG camera case, at dawn

Our campsite; perfect view of the sky

Chris shows off one of his 90 sec comet shots with the Canon

Chris' iOptron compact tracking mount, seemed to do a good job

The rest of our crew...

Eggs and sourdough toast for breakfast - thanks Ann and Merritt!

It was time for a morning run for me - 5 and a half miles round trip, to a rugged waterfall - behind the middle/right mountain and at the top of the canyon winding through this picture

The creek was flowing nicely; and I was optimistic the Falls would be as beautiful as the pictures.

At the upper end of the canyon - the falls. And a swimming hole and rock from which one could dive, in a good warm spring after a good winter!

The creek crossing, with artistic filtering. It was quite a beautiful spot.