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FORUMS Photo Sharing & Visual Enjoyment Astronomy & Celestial 
Thread started 10 Dec 2018 (Monday) 07:32
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Comet 46P/Wirtanen - from Sydney this week.

 
nero_design
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Dec 10, 2018 07:32 |  #1

Comet 46P/Wirtanen is visible in our night skies here in Sydney, Australia. I had one day without clouds two nights ago and drove up to the base of the Blue Mountains to test a lens and to take a few shots. I wasn't sure if I would see the comet but each of my cameras had no problem at all. The comet is growing brighter and should reach a maximum brightness around the 16th of December. But between the 12th and the 22 ought to be the best time to view Wirtanen. Sadly our weather has changed for the worst so I'm waiting for another clear night. The moon will also be presenting itself in the sky now so that's another distraction. A tail has formed on the comet but it's confined within the coma when viewed with wider lenses. I think tracked shots from those with computerized EQ mounts will show more detail. As for me, I just used single exposures with the self timers built into my cameras. I saw some truly amazing Geminis when I was taking these images. Some even dropped below the treeline in front of me as they turned from bright green to orange.


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Reducing the background to bokeh balls enabled color isolation for the stars and I assumed this would reveal the comet's bright green hue (which it did).


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A shot of the comet alone. It was easily seen by my cameras but I really couldn't see it with my eyes.

CAMERA - [Canon EOS M6 (APS-C) mirrorless]
LENS - [Canon EF-M 32mm f/1.4 STM]
LOCATION - [Bilpin, NSW, Australia]
FILTER - [NiSi Natural Night Filter]



  
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Colorado ­ CJ
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Dec 10, 2018 15:52 |  #2

Wow, I love that first shot! Very unique. Your 46P shot is good as well.


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kezug
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Dec 15, 2018 06:21 |  #3

Colorado CJ wrote in post #18768239 (external link)
Wow, I love that first shot! Very unique. Your 46P shot is good as well.

I echo the same!


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wysiwyg59
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Dec 20, 2018 19:59 |  #4

haven't been able to see it in Minnesota. Been hazy, foggy or cloudy


Rick
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nero_design
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Dec 20, 2018 20:28 as a reply to  @ Colorado CJ's post |  #5

I tried a few shots like this and they all turned out reasonably clear. The green glow of Comet Wirtanen is still very easy to make out among the stars in this shot as well... although I thought the first shot (above) made for a more interesting photograph.


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The comet is now still visible from the Southern Hemisphere but it's bathed in moonglow now which makes it nearly impossible to photograph. It's certainly larger in the sky. I managed to stick around until the moon set to try to get some pictures of it near the Pleiades and tried my hand at manually aligning and stacking almost 100 images - which worked without the moonlight on hand to ruin the shots. You can see below how much the moonlight affected the images. In fact I had no idea there was an apple orchard in front of me in the dark until I saw the trees in this photograph.


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nero_design
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Dec 20, 2018 20:49 |  #6


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(above) Setting up my EOS 6D with the EF 135mm f/2L USM lens on the tripod, you can see the moonlight hitting the camera from the right... and that was just a half-moon. I used a Tungsten White Balance to make the skies a deep blue color and the red light is coming from my Celestron PowerTank battery (which was on the ground to illuminate where the tripod legs were situated. The exposure settings I used for the shot below were a mixture of 4 and 5 second exposures (the limit before star streaks was really about 3.8 seconds) to give me maximum light... and then ISO 6400 at f/2. The noise on this camera was fairly low at ISO 6400 but I had to keep the exposure times short to avoid star streaks (star movement) so I needed all the light I could get with a 5 second exposure on a fixed tripod.


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84 stacked images (manually aligned in 4 groups) and then edited into a single image of The Pleiades and Comet 46P/Wirtanen.

I've rotated this image slightly for presentation reasons - but this was the result of about 84 stacked images. They were all edited in Lightroom4 (to increase contrast, adjust color hues and raise the stars) before being manually stacked into four bundles and then those four resulting stacked images were then manually aligned and stacked into a final, single image in Photoshop. The first attempt was okay but I ended up redoing this since my first attempt had some areas that were out of alignment. It wasn't easy because I'm using a Mac and there's not much useful stacking software available for it... but the stacking process revealed more details in the Comet's coma and the Pleiades that didn't show up in the individual images (I can post one if anyone wants me to). I think the stars got larger and softer from the stacking. I wish I had a computerized EQ mount to allow me to track the comet more efficiently and to use a smaller aperture. Either way, I've had moderate success with this same lens before with individual shots for comets like LoveJoy, ISON and PanSTARRS in recent years. I tried stacking images for the first time last week with just a few shots with 4x image-stacks (which failed somewhat) and so this was my first attempt at stacking close to 100 images. I only had an hour of moonless sky before the Comet began to get soft as it dropped towards the horizon.. so the images were shot between 2am and 3am.

Location: [BILPIN (just outside of Sydney in the Lower Blue Mountains) - Australia]
Time: [16th December, 2018 between 2am and 3am - local time.]



  
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nero_design
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Post edited 10 months ago by nero_design. (2 edits in all)
     
Dec 20, 2018 20:56 |  #7


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The effect of the moon can be seen here. I took this shot waiting for the moon to set... which meant sitting in the car for 2 hours and leaving plastic bags on my cameras to reduce dew. However, I did use the edge of the moon's rim as my Autofocus Target before shutting down the cameras... to save me from having to try to focus manually on a Star later. (Tungsten WB used)


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A single unstacked and unedited image straight from the camera that has been resized down to 2000 pixels - without any color enhancements or noise reduction. This was from the image set that I ended up merging together to generate the image above. The main benefit for me was that it revealed more detail and bolder color when stacked and that noise was greatly reduced. That green color from the comet looked surreal. This is the fourth Green comet I've seen now.



  
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sogs
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Dec 21, 2018 14:21 |  #8

nero_design wrote in post #18775023 (external link)
thumbnail
Hosted photo: posted by nero_design in
./showthread.php?p=187​75023&i=i211622756
forum: Astronomy & Celestial


(above) Setting up my EOS 6D with the EF 135mm f/2L USM lens on the tripod, you can see the moonlight hitting the camera from the right... and that was just a half-moon. I used a Tungsten White Balance to make the skies a deep blue color and the red light is coming from my Celestron PowerTank battery (which was on the ground to illuminate where the tripod legs were situated. The exposure settings I used for the shot below were a mixture of 4 and 5 second exposures (the limit before star streaks was really about 3.8 seconds) to give me maximum light... and then ISO 6400 at f/2. The noise on this camera was fairly low at ISO 6400 but I had to keep the exposure times short to avoid star streaks (star movement) so I needed all the light I could get with a 5 second exposure on a fixed tripod.

thumbnail
Hosted photo: posted by nero_design in
./showthread.php?p=187​75023&i=i58779059
forum: Astronomy & Celestial

84 stacked images (manually aligned in 4 groups) and then edited into a single image of The Pleiades and Comet 46P/Wirtanen.

I've rotated this image slightly for presentation reasons - but this was the result of about 84 stacked images. They were all edited in Lightroom4 (to increase contrast, adjust color hues and raise the stars) before being manually stacked into four bundles and then those four resulting stacked images were then manually aligned and stacked into a final, single image in Photoshop. The first attempt was okay but I ended up redoing this since my first attempt had some areas that were out of alignment. It wasn't easy because I'm using a Mac and there's not much useful stacking software available for it... but the stacking process revealed more details in the Comet's coma and the Pleiades that didn't show up in the individual images (I can post one if anyone wants me to). I think the stars got larger and softer from the stacking. I wish I had a computerized EQ mount to allow me to track the comet more efficiently and to use a smaller aperture. Either way, I've had moderate success with this same lens before with individual shots for comets like LoveJoy, ISON and PanSTARRS in recent years. I tried stacking images for the first time last week with just a few shots with 4x image-stacks (which failed somewhat) and so this was my first attempt at stacking close to 100 images. I only had an hour of moonless sky before the Comet began to get soft as it dropped towards the horizon.. so the images were shot between 2am and 3am.

Location: [BILPIN (just outside of Sydney in the Lower Blue Mountains) - Australia]
Time: [16th December, 2018 between 2am and 3am - local time.]

Excellent job!




  
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nero_design
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Dec 27, 2018 06:37 |  #9


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Revisited my first shoot (Dec 12) and manually stacked 8 images to reveal more of the comet's glow radius (Coma).

The comet (46P/Wirtanen) has dropped to the Northern horizon now (from here in the Southern hemisphere) and it's hard to see in the moon-glow st the moment. I'm sorry to say that there are no more anticipated comets to be viewed in the skies in 2019. But we may always anticipate the visitation of an unknown comet at short notice... so that's a nice thought. Many of the so-called Great Comets were only detected upon their approach within months of becoming visible.



  
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Comet 46P/Wirtanen - from Sydney this week.
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