Home > Comet, Ephemeris Extra, Observing > 12/15/2018 – Ephemeris Extra – Finally the skies cleared and I got a photograph of Comet Wirtanen

12/15/2018 – Ephemeris Extra – Finally the skies cleared and I got a photograph of Comet Wirtanen

December 15, 2018
Comet Wirtanen and the Pleiades

Comet 46P/Wirtanen and the Pleiades. 9:24 p.m. EST, December 14, 2018. Canon EOS Rebel T5, f/5.5, 30 sec., ISO-3200, fl 55mm, tracking.  Click on the image to enlarge.  Credit Bob Moler.

Finally, the skies cleared.  The last time we had clear skies was early in the evening on the 8th. Our family went to the Ballet that evening at Interlochen Center for the Arts, and by the time I got back and dressed to go outside and observe the comet, it had clouded up.  The Ballet was wonderful, by the way.

Anyway, Comet 46P/Wirtanen as a few hours ago was greatly hampered by the nearly first quarter Moon.  And it’s going to get worse as the moon’s phase gets fuller.  I thought I could see it in with the naked eye.  It was visible in binoculars.  As you can see it did photograph well.  I processed the image with GIMP to increase contrast, and reduce the background moonlight.  There is no discernible tail visually or in this photograph.  Longer exposures in a dark sky do show a faint ion tail.  Remember this is a short period comet, and has been around the Horn (perihelion) innumerable times.  It orbits the Sun from just inside Jupiter’s orbit to just outside Earth’s orbit every 5.4 years.

Happy comet hunting!

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