Leo and a Comet

Click on picture to see it full size.

Click on picture to see it full size.

   I read on the Space Weather website last night that Comet ISON was now bright enough to be seen with binoculars, but presumably still in dark skies. So around 5 am CST this morning I went outside to see if I could capture a picture of the comet. I took a series of pictures with various ISO settings (800-3200) and exposure times (6 seconds to 13 seconds). The comet was not visible in any the pictures but I did manage to catch an airplane as it flew across Leo from the tail to the head of the lion.
   How did I get that gap between the plane lights? I actually caught the plane in two consecutive pictures and then used the Freeware program, Deep Sky Stacker to register and stack these two pictures along with 8 other pictures taken at about the same time into one picture. The two ‘airplane lights’ pictures were taken with the same settings (F3.5, ISO 1600) except for the exposure times which were 13 and 15 seconds respectively.

Click on picture to see it full size.

Click on picture to see it full size.

   I did have some excitement in thinking I had a picture of the comet just above some trees. I had changed the aim of the camera upwards a little more to better get pictures of the area around Mars and Denebola. This picture is one of a series with varying ISO and shutter speed settings. The banner picture at the top of the page is the original, while this one I ‘Photoshopped’ to brighten. This picture is cropped from the original that was taken at 5:56 am CST with the camera settings of: F3.5; 10 seconds; ISO 400.

   
   
Caution: Objects viewed with an optical aid are further than they appear.
   Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.

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