Attempts at Comet Lovejoy: The RASC Party

On January 19, 2015, RASC hosted a star party at Glen Major Forest, and since it would be my last chance at imaging the comet before starting my new job, I decided to take advantage of the party and go there.

My goal at that party would be to image the comet with its tail. When I arrived, there were many people already there. There were new members, and veteran members. More people would’ve come, but seeing as it was very cold, it was understandable.

After saying hi to everyone, and looking at the comet through a friend of mine’s binoculars, I quickly set up my telescope, and aligned it to Betelgeuse and Polaris, with the help of one of my friends.

After asking the host to show me where the comet is, I tried finding it with my telescope. After a lot of help from my friends, I eventually found it, and set my telescope to take multiple one minute exposures. The result were very shaky, but there were a few photos that turned out well.

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Comet Lovejoy 61.2″ exposure, f/10, ISO 1600

 

While the camera was capturing the photos, I went around and saw what everyone else was doing. They were all looking at very cool celestial objects. However, there were bright lights that came during the night from the North-East. It was troubling. My friends told us that it was from a nearby ski resort. Hopefully, the lights don’t ruin any future RASC events at Glen Major forest.

Soon enough, the clouds came in, and we all packed up. I was the second-last to leave, while the host left the last. It was a successful night. I was able to get a good image of the comet, but I didn’t get the tail like I wanted to. This would probably be my last chance at imaging the comet. The next day was predicted to be clear, but I have to get up early the day after for work. Thankfully, I do not let that day go to waste. See the next blog post.

Keep Looking Up. There is always something up there.

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The Lunar Eclipse

On October 8, 2014, a lunar eclipse occurred in North America, and Oceania. This eclipse is the second of four consecutive total lunar eclipses occurring in 2014-2015.

I missed the first eclipse because that night in Toronto was overcast with a thick cloud. On that night, the forecast looked bleak with clouds clearing only around 6-7 am, when the eclipse was underway. Some forecasts say that it would remain cloudy for the whole night. Despite the high probability of cloud, I decided to go and observe anyway.

I arrived at the bus depot near the Markham Fairgrounds at 5:00 am. It was completely overcast, although there was a break in the clouds at that time. In that break, I believe I saw the beginning of the eclipse at that time, but I am uncertain about that. After I captured a few shots of the Moon, the clouds covered the night sky.

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Partial Phase of the Lunar Eclipse. 5:59 AM

After waiting a while for the clouds to clear, I elected to leave that area and come back in 30 minutes, once the clouds cleared up a bit more. However, on the road back home, I saw a significant break in the clouds and I drove back to the spot. When I arrived there, the clouds opened up slightly to reveal some of the stars. In the distance, I saw a sort of divide between the clouds and what I assumed was another set of clouds. As the clouds moved eastward, I noticed that the divide was an opening between the clouds and the sky.

Eventually, the clouds moved far enough that the eclipsing moon became visible. I soon began imaging it playing around with the settings, experimenting with what created a great image and what created a flawed image. It was an amazing experience to not only capture but to view a lunar eclipse.

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Partial Lunar Eclipse Phase. 6:26 AM

As the Moon descended towards the atmosphere, I decided to get a clearer view of the horizon. I grabbed the camera and headed into the Bus Depot. There, I got a clearer view of the horizon, and the eclipse as well.

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Lunar Eclipse 6:39 AM

The eclipse lasted for many hours until sunrise. As the Moon descended deeper into totality, the sun starts to rise, which obstructed the view of the Moon in totality. At around 7:05 pm, I couldn’t see the Moon anymore. At that time, I decided to go back home.

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Lunar Eclipse in Totality 6:52 AM

Looking at the photographs, I also realized that I may have imaged Uranus as well. I compared the image I took with Starry Nights planetarium software, and I couldn’t confirm whether I imaged a star or Uranus with the reddening Moon. I then compared my image with another person’s image, and I saw that there was a blue star near the moon in a similar position to the other person’s image. There were other stars, but they were not a sky blue. I suspect it is Uranus, but I cannot be sure.

EDIT: A friend of mine confirmed that the dot is indeed Uranus. 😀

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6:26 AM with Uranus circled.

Whoever saw the eclipse, in Toronto, were lucky that the clouds cleared up. I had a great time imaging the eclipse. I invite anyone who saw the eclipse to share their experience on the comments section below.

 

Keep Looking Up!