Comet Lovejoy

One of the objects in the night sky that I have been wanting to image was the Comet Lovejoy. This comet initially was only visible in the Southern Hemisphere. But over the last month or so, it has been gradually making its way up to the Northern Hemisphere and is visible now in the night sky. Sadly the skies have been cloudy over the past few weeks until Monday night. The skies were initially cloudy when I got home in the evening,  but around 8:45pm the skies became clear and  revealed the many stars in the night sky (there is always significant light pollution here in Oxford). Hence I took the opportunity to do some astrophotography.

Equipment used:

Sony A6000, Sony 50mm F1.8 lens, Sony FE 70-200mm lens, mounted on Astrotrac TT320X, using Astronomic CLS-CCD filter to reduce light pollution. I took multiple subs for stacking, but have also included single frame images below as well. The great thing about the A6000 is that the sensor is able to boost the image enough to allow accurate manual focusing so the stars are nice and sharp in the images, plus the fact it allows for wired remote makes it very useful for taking multiple images of the same exposure for stacking.

Subject:

Comet Lovejoy – discovered in 2014 by amateur astronomer Terry Lovejoy on 17 August 2014. It is also known as C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy).

Wide-angled view (cropped in) of Pleiades and Comet Lovejoy taken with Sony 50mm F1.8 @ F2.8 ISO 400 2 minute sub (single image):

Wide-angle view of Pleiades and Comet Lovejoy
Wide-angle view of Pleiades and Comet Lovejoy

Taken with Sony FE 70-200mm @ F4 ISO 400 60 sec sub (single image):

Comet Lovejoy at 200mm
Comet Lovejoy at 200mm

These images below have been stacked in Deep Sky Stacker using both light and dark frames. First is the wide-angle stacked image:

Stacked image of Pleiades and Comet Lovejoy
Stacked image of Pleiades and Comet Lovejoy

This is the stacked image of the 200mm subs:

Stacked image of Comet Lovejoy
Stacked image of Comet Lovejoy
Comet Lovejoy Cropped in
Comet Lovejoy Cropped in

As you can see, there is more detail in the stacked images, particularly of the tail of the Comet, although the actual comet was overblown – in future I will try and do some shorter exposures as well for the brighter parts of the subject being captured.

I am pleased to have managed to capture this Comet, which is the first image I have managed to take of a Comet. Hopefully I will have many more opportunities to do further astro imaging in the future (perhaps even of the Asteroid which will be getting very close to earth on 26-27/1/15).

Boon