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Harassed by Javelinas;
Comet 46P/Wirtanen using SkyTracker Pro

Posted: 14 December 2018

Thursday, 13 December 2018, began partly cloudy and windy, but was clear and calm at night.

Open: Thursday, 13 December 2018, 2140 MST
Temperature: 47°F
Session: 1315
Conditions: Clear

Equipment Used:
SkyTracker Pro


I went out to the observatory to photograph Comet 46P/Wirtanen using the iOptron SkyTracker Pro. On the way to the observatory I heard some Javelinas nearby. Javelinas are wild pigs and are a protected species in Arizona.

I set up the Nikon D850 DSLR + Nikon 70-300mm lens on the SkyTracker Pro on the observatory patio:


I polar aligned the SkyTracker Pro and pointed the camera towards the comet. The comet was high in the sky and easily seen with the naked eye as a large faint fuzzy object. No tail was visible to the eye. The comet was not visible in the camera viewfinder. The waxing crescent Moon low in the western sky did not hamper visibility too much this night.

All the time I was at the observatory two Javelinas came near me. I never saw them while at the observatory, nor did I feel threatened by them. But they did seem to want to harass me!

This tracked photograph (f/4.5, 30 seconds, ISO 6400, focal length 70mm, white balance 4000K) shows Comet 46P/Wirtanen near the Hyades and Pleiades star clusters:


The comet was not that bright to the eye, but the size of the coma is about what the eye could see. Some nebulosity is visible at the Pleiades.

This slightly cropped, tracked, photograph shows Comet 46P/Wirtanen taken with a focal length of 300mm (f/5.6, 30 seconds, ISO 12800, WB 4000K):


A faint short tail is barely visible at the 11 o'clock position from the comet's nucleus.

I did not open the observatory this night.

As I left the observatory I could still hear the Javelinas nearby.

Close: Thursday, 13 December 2018, 2219 MST
Temperature: 45°F
Session Length: 0h 39m
Conditions: Clear

After I arrived back at the house I saw two Javelinas about 30 feet from me. They watched me as I watched them.

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