Comet Tuttle - Winter '07/08

Comet 8P Tuttle (parent of the Ursid meteor shower) made a favorable swing through the inner solar system this winter. The best show was the conjunction with M33 on the evening of Dec 30. I was in Yosemite National Park helping with a ski / family camping trip for ImageQuest and so trying to photograph this turned out to be challenging. Translation - I suffered to get these shots: black ice, endless headlights, ground fog above the snow which made it near impossible to look through the finderscope without fogging it, and a dead dew gun! A cold front came through earlier and it was well below freezing. See more about that here.

Dec 30, 8:30pm PST from Yosemite Valley. 10x2min stack with ST2000xcm and 100mm Zuiko camera lens with SBIG camera adapter. Unfortunately, for some reason this set up gives very purple stars which have a strong core/halo aberration. This was the only optics I had which could get both comet and M33. The comet trailed on this version, stacked on the stars. sRGB+gamma in CCDOPS5, multi-point stacking in Registax 4, Photoshop CS2: 'make stars smaller', 'space noise reduction', color balance, contrast enhance, saturation, cropping.

Dec 30 7:45pm PST from Yosemite Valley. 2x1min + 5min stack through the 8" f/4 LXD75. Ice crystals on the corrector plate marred the 5min shot.

Jan 1 9pm PST from Coast Road Reservoir. 10x3min stack through the 8" f/4 LXD75. Light cirrus marred the final 5 images, but removing these makes the sky noise impossible to reduce to the point that the faint tail can be brought out. Note how the new gas tail shows a kink.

Jan 13 ~10:30pm from Oak Ridge Observatory. 10x3min stack through the 8" f/4 LXD75. For the first time, I got good results by applying the Astronomy Tools 'light pollution removal'. The real problem was very low altitude (14 degrees) in the darkest direction of a light polluted site (compared to Santa Cruz area sites). Then 'space noise reduction', 'enhance DSO/reduce stars', levels, crop.