måndag 30 september 2013

Comet C/2012 S1 ISON

Following the discovery of the 'new' comet, named C/2012 S1 ISON, in September last year, public expectations of comet ISON have been sky-high, since it has been predicted to become one of the brightest comets in a long time.

At the time of its discovery by the two Russian amateur astronomers Vitali Nevski and Artyom Novichonok the comet was as faint as magnitude 18.8 and, although it’s now much closer to the Sun, it is still faint (mag 12-14) and impossible to see with the naked eye.

Yesterday morning, however, I managed to catch the comet on a photo using a 300mm lens with a 1.7 x converter, but since ISON is poorly placed low in the sky in a light-polluted part of the sky as seen from my observing spot, the result is poor. Being my first attempt simply to see if I could detect it at all, I didn’t bother with taking any calibration frames and the shot is simply a crude stack combining eight 30-second shots at high ISO.

My first 'detection' of comet ISON - 29 Sept 2013

As always with comets, it is notoriously difficult to predict whether they will put on memorable displays or disappoint and fail to “deliver”, but ISON is expected to reach the naked-eye magnitude 6 in November and, depending on if it survives perihelion passage or not, may be visible to the naked eye until early January 2014.

Let’s hope for another amazing sky show later this winter – at least is was nice to “see” that the comet is on its way as it passed by planet Mars - making it my 24th comet that I have caught with a camera without the use of any telescope. Hopefully it will be possible to catch it without any camera at all later this year - Northern Lights Photography wishes you all clear skies!

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