A Night of Comet Photography at Cabrillo College Observatory

Jan 19, 2015

Constant mucky cirrus has plagued us for weeks, but they thinned at sunset and I called the troops together for a quick couple of hours of photography of Comet Lovejoy at the observatory. There was also the possibility of a satellite of the asteroid Alauda crossing our way, I'd thought at about 9pm. I goofed; it was actually 8pm (7:53pm more exactly), a daylight savings time rookie mistake, and that came/went before I could adjust. So, comet photography only for us. Ann and Becky joined, and I wanted to help Becky learn the procedures better for operation of the 12" dome scope as well.


I tried various shots to show the working situation for 12" scope operation

The new red LED lights thanks to Chris Angelos, provided a less harsh red lighting than the earlier red flourescents.

The comet was bright and had an obvious spike plasma tail

Comet Lovejoy. We got 7x5min shots before the clouds came in. I dark-subtracted and flat-fielded, then processed with sRGB color processing, all in CCDOPs, then stacked on the comet nucleus (hence the dot trails of stars - the comet is moving significantly across the sky), and post-processed in Photoshop to enhance the blue tail, and Astronomy Tools Actions to reduce sky noise, enhance local contrast, and finally use Curves. The frame is about 15 arcmin (1/4 degree) across, so this is a high-power close up compared to others on the web.