Comet 46P/Wirtanen

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rwilkinson
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Comet 46P/Wirtanen

Post by rwilkinson » Sat Nov 03, 2018 3:08 pm

This is the comet which could be a naked-eye object in our skies over Christmas.
At the moment it's high in the southern skies, so I've just used a brand-new iTelescope in New South Wales to get myself an image:
46p_3nov.png
Comet Wirtanen on 3-Nov. 2x 120-sec with C11 at f/2.2
46p_3nov.png (443.41 KiB) Viewed 2495 times
The telescope itself is a Celestron C11 operating at f/2.2 - presumably using some kind of HyperStar attachment to run it as a Schmidt-camera? I've always wanted to try one of these.
Image

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Re: iTelescope T68

Post by rwilkinson » Sat Nov 03, 2018 3:23 pm

rwilkinson wrote:The telescope itself is a Celestron C11 operating at f/2.2 - presumably using some kind of HyperStar attachment
It's actually an 11" Rowe-Ackermann Schmidt Astrograph!:
https://www.celestron.com/products/11-i ... astrograph

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Re: Comet 46P/Wirtanen

Post by rwilkinson » Fri Nov 30, 2018 1:56 pm

I've been trying to get an updated picture of this comet, but have been baulked by poor weather at the iTelescope site in Bathurst (New South Wales) over the last few days.
But just before lunchtime (i.e. the middle of tonight over there!) I hit the jackpot, and have just been proccessing my data:
46p_30nov.png
Comet Wirtanen on 30-Nov. 6x 60-sec with 11" Rowe-Ackermann at f/2.2
46p_30nov.png (536.95 KiB) Viewed 2296 times
The complete image will be on the front cover of the December issue of The Bolton Astronomer - out tomorrow!

And note that this comet is expected to be even brighter when it reaches our skies around Christmas - more details in our magazine...

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Re: Comet 46P/Wirtanen

Post by rwilkinson » Mon Dec 03, 2018 10:26 pm

I managed to catch my first glimpse of it from Bolton this evening.
Although it was very low in the SE (only 16 degrees altitude at 8pm), I managed to find a spot in the garden which gave me enough of a view.
Then it started to cloud over, and I finished my imaging run holding an umbrella over the 'scope and laptop!
46p_3dec.png
Comet Wirtanen from Bolton on 3-Dec. 14x 90-sec with Hx916 on 80ED at f/4.6.
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Re: Comet 46P/Wirtanen

Post by rwilkinson » Wed Dec 12, 2018 8:17 am

If we get any clear sky tonight, have a look for this comet. It's currently tracking between Cetus and Taurus:
46P_12dec.png
46P_12dec.png (175.82 KiB) Viewed 2124 times
It's quite close to Earth at the moment (around 7 million miles) but is further out from the Sun than us: which is why we can see it in the night sky, rather than low down in the twilight like many other comets.

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Re: Comet 46P/Wirtanen

Post by rwilkinson » Thu Dec 13, 2018 9:27 am

Thankfully the clouds did clear last night - although there must still have been some haze, as I could only just make out The Pleiades with the unaided eye!
With such poor contrast I struggled to see the comet with my Helios 15x70 binoculars: I could only just make it out using averted vision. I also tried my EEV image-intensifier, fitted with a 200mm lens, but didn't do any better with that.
Finally I tried my Bushnell DNV (Digital Night-Vision) 6x50 monocular, and was pleasantly surpised: I could see the comet much better through that. And I used its video-capture facility to record a few 30-sec .AVI files for processing:
46p_12dec_dnv.png
Comet Wirtanen on 12-Dec with the DNV camera. 4x 30-sec video captures, processed in IRIS
46p_12dec_dnv.png (69.62 KiB) Viewed 2175 times
The bright stars in the top-right are Ksi & Omicron Tauri, which are 3rd magnitude, and the star very close to the comet is the 9th-magnitude Hipparcos 16342.
Meanwhile, I was using my Atik 16IC camera for some more conventional imaging:
46p_12dec.png
Comet Wirtanen on 12-Dec. 50x 60-sec with Atik 16IC on Starwave 80ED at f/4.7
46p_12dec.png (220.29 KiB) Viewed 2175 times
although seeing how large and diffuse and fast-moving the comet was, I should have used a wider field of view.

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Re: Comet 46P/Wirtanen

Post by rwilkinson » Sat Dec 15, 2018 8:17 am

I got another picture last night: despite the moonlight, haze and patchy cloud (hence the gaps in the star-trails).
46p_14dec.png
Comet Wirtanen on 14-Dec. 36x 90-sec with Hx916 on Starwave 80ED at f/4.6
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Re: Comet 46P/Wirtanen

Post by rwilkinson » Tue Dec 25, 2018 2:29 pm

Finally got some more clear sky last night - before the moonlight got too bright!
The comet is now in Auriga, close to Capella, but I couldn't see it with my 15x70 binoculars.
But thanks to the loan of Keith's Atik Infinity camera, I got a colour picture with a wider field than I could manage with my 16IC.
46p_24dec.png
Comet Wirtanen on 24-Dec. 65x 90-sec with Atik Infinity on 80ED f/4.7
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Re: Comet 46P/Wirtanen

Post by rwilkinson » Wed Jan 02, 2019 9:52 am

Well after the disappointing weather at the end of last year, we didn't have to wait long into 2019 for a clear night.
But the comet has faded significantly from its peak a fortnight ago.
46p_1jan.png
Comet Wirtanen on 1-Jan. 57x 60-sec with 80ED at f/7
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Re: Comet 46P/Wirtanen

Post by rwilkinson » Fri Mar 08, 2019 12:13 pm

This comet has declined from 3rd down to 11th magnitude in the last couple of months, but it's high in the sky in Ursa Major at the moment, so I could easily detect it with my faithful old Mx716 camera.
46p_7mar.jpg
Comet Wirtanen on 7-Mar. 30x 90-sec from Mx716 on C8 at f/3.3
46p_7mar.jpg (88.77 KiB) Viewed 1066 times
I also had a look for 123P/West-Hartley , which I'd expected to be fainter (12th or 13th magnitude), although it actually appeared brighter on my CCD - probably as it's less diffuse:
123p_7mar.jpg
Comet 123P on 7-Mar. 24x 90-sec from Mx716 on C8 at f/3.3
123p_7mar.jpg (80.3 KiB) Viewed 1066 times

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