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Comet C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy) and M79 Globular Cluster

Posted: 29 December 2014

Clouds returned on Sunday, 28 December 2014. But the clouds made for a gorgeous Arizona sunset with a sun pillar:


The clouds made it seem unlikely that I would be able to photograph Comet C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy) as it passed the M79 globular cluster this night. But a few hours later the sky cleared!

Open: Sunday, 28 December 2014, 2147 MST
Temperature: 37°F
Session: 760
Conditions: Clear

Immediately upon opening the observatory I added a f/6.3 focal reducer to the 8" LX200-ACF telescope. 2156 MST: viewed the First Quarter Moon, 53X. Then mounted the D7000 DSLR at prime focus + focal reducer using the TPO 2" camera adapter.

2203 MST: took this photo (cropped) of the moon, 1/320sec, ISO 400:


I then slewed to M79 (globular cluster) to check framing of the comet and cluster. Did a test exposure; the framing would work. Did a focus test on the star Rigel using the Bahtinov Mask. Slewed back to M79 and began taking photos at various exposure settings. I wanted to capture the globular cluster without overexposing the comet's head. I also hoped to capture the comet's faint, thin, tail although the bright moonlit sky was expected to make that difficult. This is a cropped 2 minute, ISO 6400, exposure showing the comet next to the globular cluster. The thin tail is faintly visible going left from the comet and beneath the globular cluster.


2238 MST: completed comet imaging and removed the camera.

Comet Lovejoy was faintly visible to the naked eye and was a nice view using 12x70 binoculars.

2253 MST: viewed the comet and globular cluster at 53X. The tail was not visible. Removed the focal reducer and viewed the comet and M79 at 83X. This provided a good view of the comet's head and coma in the same field-of-view as the M79 globular cluster.

2304 MST: took a quick look at Jupiter and the four Galilean Moons, 83X.

Close: Sunday, 28 December 2014, 2314 MST
Temperature: 38°F

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