Attempts at Comet Lovejoy: Up on Cold Creek

On January 10, 2015, New Eyes Old Skies hosted an event at the Cold Creek Conservation Park. DDO Defenders astronomers and Ian Shelton and Tuba Koktay, in a heated building, presented to all the participants an overview of what to expect in the night sky during the month of January, and it was interesting. This month featured a visible Jupiter moving up the night sky; Venus, and Mercury coming close to each other; and a bright comet called Comet Lovejoy flying through the sky, getting better and better until the Moon comes back. The presentation successfully piqued the interest of many participants.

Before I arrived at Cold Creek Conservation Park, I drove up a hill in Markham where all of Markham was visible. There, I was able to image Venus and Mercury, although not in the same frame.

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Venus after Sunset. 1/125″ exp, f/10, ISO 1600

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Mercury after sunset. 1/15″ exp, f/10, ISO 1600

Coming into the park, it was completely overcast. By the end of Ian’s presentation, the sky cleared up enough to reveal the night sky. There were a few scattered clouds in the sky, but they quickly moved out of our way. Since the temperature was -9 C, I had to set up and image very quickly lest the telescope freezes again. Taking what I learned from my previous astronomy session in Glen Major Forest, I aligned my telescope to Betelgeuse and Polaris using the Two Star Alignment method. When it was ready, I let everyone know inside, and many came out to see me image the night sky.

That night, I got lucky with good images of Comet Lovejoy.

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Comet Lovejoy: 75mm focal length: 10″ exp, f/4, ISO 1600

I had taken 10 x 30 second exposure images to stack, but when I checked them, only one was good enough to share. The rest suffered from camera shake. Here it is below:

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Comet Lovejoy: 255mm focal length: 30″ exposure, f/5.6, and ISO 1600.

I wanted to find the comet using my telescope, but my battery was low on energy and finally died. Disappointed, but satisfied with my work, I packed up my scope and made my way home. It was a successful night. I got the chance to image the comet again, and get better pictures. I didn’t get the tail like I wanted, but I guess there is always next time.

Thank You for reading everyone. I hope you are all enjoying these stories. I wanted to mention that the presenters, Ian and Tuba offer a number of classes for the general public, most notably their “Introduction to Astrophotography” class. The courses are full of useful information, and are very well presented. I have taken these courses, and I learned a lot from them. I recommended them to everyone interested in astrophotography. The link is here.  They also have a lecture series called, ‘Search for Extraterrestrials: Life Originating Elsewhere in the Universe.’ The link is here. Keep looking up! You never know what you will find up there.

 

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Dark Skies at Long Sault

On Thursday, September 25, 2014, RASC hosted its monthly dark sky party at Long Sault Conservation Park. After all my work was done for the day, I decided to take the 45 minute drive there.

I arrived at Long Sault Conservation Park at 11pm. Most of the observers have left, with only a few left. Looking up at the sky, I saw so many more stars than at home. I also saw the Milky Way. Unfortunately, the Galactic Center was not visible at that time. I met whoever were left, and I saw what they were seeing. They were doing amazing work.

One observer, who came from downtown Toronto, showed me his setup. When I met him, he was looking at the Andromeda Galaxy. He let me peek at Andromeda through his telescope, and I saw a dull, fuzzy, and dim dot. It was barely visible.

I stayed until 11:30 pm, looking up into the sky, staring in awe of the beautiful, Milky, stream of stars in the sky. After that, I left for the long drive back home.

While my trip was short, it was fruitful. I finally saw how beautiful Long Sault Conversation Park is, and I saw the Milky Way. I hope to one day come back with my telescope and take more photos of the night sky there.

 

Until then, Happpy Observing!