Comet-chasing - between the clouds

Blog the previous nights viewing. Link to images on the gallery or simply describe what you observed the night before. Leave the technical and howto in another forum.
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Location: Bolton

Comet-chasing - between the clouds

Post by rwilkinson » Fri Feb 28, 2020 11:22 am

I've not had any "fresh" comets since my first sighting of C/2017 T2 last November, so I've been eagerly anticipating the appearance of C/2020 A2 (Iwamoto). During our last clear night (a fortnight ago!) it was too low down, so last night I was keen to grab the opportunity.
However the forecast was dodgy: I could see cloud coming in over the Irish Sea from the IR satellite images, yet at 7pm the sky was clear.

My first 60-sec CCD images didn't show any trace of a comet, so I went back and double-checked its coordinates. But I had got it right: it was just that the comet was so diffuse that it didn't provide much contrast against the light-polluted background.
There were a few interrurptions from swift-moving clouds, but I managed to get a series of forty one-minute exposures and when I applied my magic comet-stacking process the target was clear enough:
C/2020 A2 on 27-Feb. 40x 60-sec with Mx716 on C8 at f/3.5
c2020a2_27feb.jpg (30.09 KiB) Viewed 6479 times
Then I wanted to look for another new comet: C/2019 Y4 (ATLAS), which was high up in Ursa Major (between the "pointer" stars Dubhe and Merak). But no sooner had I slewed to this position than I saw spots of drizzle on my laptop screen! I hurriedly grabbed an umbrella and towel to cover up the gear:
Who needs a dome?
umbrella.jpg (126.5 KiB) Viewed 6479 times
Happily this was just a brief shower and soon the clouds had blown away again, so I managed a decent imaging run on this second target. This comet was more condensed, so it was easily seen on my 1-min exposures:
C/2019 Y4 on 27-Feb. 53x 60-sec with Mx716 on C8 at f/3.5
c2019y4_27feb.jpg (29.12 KiB) Viewed 6479 times
That's my 114th comet, and the 87th which I've detected using all my own gear.

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