Comet Lulin Approaches

Saturday night down in the Flint Hills to see what comet Lulin looks like. The sky was crystal clear with temperatures around 25F all night. At the beginning of darkness the Zodiacal light was fantastic. Venus was shining brightly in that cone of light, a visual treat.

After rising up in the sky Comet Lulin was naked eye visible. Make that barely visible to the naked eye if you know where to look. So average people have no clue there is something different in the night. In binoculars Lulin was a nice sight but the tails are not very distinct. A picture provides yet another perspective since the camera can capture the colors yours eyes can not see. I managed to take several images that night, on the right is a single five minute exposure using a Canon 40D with 200mm f2.8L series lens. Taken about 2:30am (Sunday morning) the transparency was excellent. Click image for larger view (1024×683).

I had a slew of imaging problems through out the night. So I never accomplished exactly what I set out to do. Astrophotography is always an adventure! I spent much time gazing at the sky this night and came to the conclusion thatthe light pollution visible from the Tetterville area has gotten worse. This comes from cities far away like El Dorado and Emporia. This is unfortunate but it is happening everywhere. Despite the issues it was fun to be up all night and a thrill to be out under the stars.

C/2007 N3 Lulin First Look

I don’t like getting up early in the morning. In my world its much better to stay up all night. With a new comet approaching Earth I managed to drag myself out of bed Thursday morning (2.5.2009) and get my first glimpse of Comet Lulin. The previous night I prepared my telescope for morning use and left the camera out to be acclimated to the temperature.

Thursday morning was clear but my transparency was below average. The comet was not naked eye for me in my (yellow) semi-rural sky. In binoculars the little grey blob was readily visible. Just before the end of darkness I collected a few exposures for the photograph on the right. Click image to see larger (1024×681) size.

Comet Lulin will be closest to Earth on 02.24.2009 and you can read more about it at Spaceweather or Sky and Telescope.

Update: photograph above taken with AP 130mm @f4.5, composite of 3 x 5 minute exposures with stock Canon 40D at ISO400.