Ed Smith sent in these links about everyone's favourite comet:
Yet another change worth noting. Thanks Ed!
Here are reports on the recent readings from the LOFAR II radio antenna, and their compliance with GOES 10, 11 & 12 readings.
I became involved with this project, at my own expense, to involve HAA with a network of like observatories, work on solar ('stellar evolution') research, make contributions to variable readings, compare our results with satellite output (So far, we have been right on the money!) and supply data to HAA membership that might wish to know about sunspots developing, meteor showers, auroral activity and, if we're lucky, GRB's. The learning curve has been steep. I have two domiciles to manage and am involved with numerous other activities. So, working on this project has been whenever I have been able to find blocks of time. It is not like visual-photographic-spectroscopic studies where the target is either acquired or it is not. There is not a radio system, anywhere, that is 'turnkey'. Most of the time, one is 'feeling' one's way along the procedure. You can't see the image. Several weeks ago, I had almost given up, after 8 months. Then, things started to happen. It seemed that it was too good to be true. However, it is not. We have a great system here and it works independent of weather, all day, every day! Like SNO, it is totally indoors. We now have two receivers: one operating @ 0.52-30 mHz and 87.6-108.6 mHz; the other @24.0 kHz. It is truly an ITT - information technology telescope.
November 10, 2007
At 9:43 PM our signal is ~1.25 V which is exactly where it should be for a quiescent sky condition at night. Saw Comet Holmes in binoculars earlier this evening, too. Skies are full of water vapour and not very transparent.
November 12, 2007
There were some unsettled readings (minor) from 8:30AM-12:55PM EST and 1:53-3:07PM EST. All were below an A-class but exerted some minor influences on our readings. They were confirmed with GOES 10,11,12 satellite readings.
November 13, 2007
Tonight, at 8:30-9:20 PM EST, we had a bottom-line A-class x-ray emission from the sun. I don't know when it was ejected, but it hit the ionosphere at the above time.
From ~9:53-10:04 PM EST my cable was reduced to an 'antenna' that allowed HTZ FM(air signal) to swamp WNED FM(cable station) during this lull between low-level x-ray bursts. When the second burst hit at 10:04 PM EST the cable signal had already recovered, but through-the-air transmission of WNED FM suffered interference. Again, this is confirmed with GOES data!! This 'guy' is going to be one of HAA's most valuable assets.
November 25, 2007
Sunday, November 25/2007 @ 00:30 we were hit by a very minor solar outburst. It is shown on the GOES 11 satellite site and we had a significant voltage rise and fall over that period of time ~00:15 - ~01:30.
December 2, 2007
We had a beauty of a B5 flare from the sun at ~ 3:00 PM EST that GOES 11 nailed. Sadly, we missed it because we were too close to sunset. So, it hit the other 'side' of the world and not us.
December 6, 2007
We show an output curve close to the GOES data. There is nothing spectacular beyond a mid-A output. However, it very closely resembles the GOES readings.
Our readings should be ~ -1.25 to -1.50 V @ 12:11 noon and we are getting ~0.0. This would indicate a rise in general solar activity, much of it probably having to do with the 'new' sunspot group.
December 11, 2007
SUNSPOTS -- We are getting quite a steady and strong 'wind' from the sun. LOFAR II voltages are ~1V too high. It is hitting us at a B-level and is probably due to that monster sunspot grouping dead in the middle of the sun. The radiation from it is very intense and, I assume, very steady. It is about 1/10th of the sun in diameter. That would make it 10 Earths wide!!
December 18, 2007
You can see how much Stanford loves us!!!! Maybe we'll be invited down for a talk or to see the solar centre. I may go to SAS in 2008 to present our spectral work and LOFAR II. Her remarks refer, I assume to all of our mailings, but this follows on the heels of Dec. 18/07 UT. -Mike
> Date: Tue, 18 Dec 2007 21:36:15 -0800
> From: email@example.com
> To: firstname.lastname@example.org
> Subject: Re: LOFAR II - data for Dec. 18/07
> D*mn, you are blowing us away here. This is awesome!!!!
> Michael Jefferson wrote:
> > Hi Deb, This is a beauty! We bagged a C-1 @ UT 13:14!! and it is
> > right on the money with GOES. A second C is a 0.5 @ UT 20:51 and is ~ 2
> > hr.s behind GOES which I think may be due to us rotating away from it
> > and we are going into sunset at the time. It is way down in the evening
> > trough!!! Cheers!
At 1:30-ish in the morning of Sunday, November 18, 2007, the sky in Burlington was clear, and Comet Holmes was visible, right beside Mirfak (Alpha Persei).
I took four pictures of Holmes from outside my front door, and here's an excerpt of one of them. Canon Digital Rebel 300D; Tamron 300mm lens @f/2.8; ISO 400; 71 second exposure.
************ UPDATE ************
Here's "Take 3" of Comet Holmes, right above Mirfak, at about 11:00 pm Sunday Night (November 18, 2007). Equipment and settings as above, but 74 second exposure:
... in the same magnification as the one earlier Sunday Morning:
... and here's the same image, close up on the comet:
Our third attempt to observe a grazing lunar occultation was unsuccessful, but all agreed that the night of observing was still a big success.
It should be noted that the Clear Sky Clock said that it would be overcast all night, but our favourite weather goddess said that it would clear later in the night. So who are you going to trust? That's right, so even though it was snowing at the time, Jim W., Jackie F. and I agreed to meet Don P. at Binbrook for the occultation, with the knowledge that it would clear eventually. As Don and Jim set up at the windsurfing parking lot in the park, which was about 500 meters closer to the center line than the hill, Jackie and I searched the skies for the moon with our binoculars. A few brief glimpses of our nearest neighbour through the clouds kept our spirits up, but we knew that there was to be no 7.8 magnitude stars cutting through the overcast. By occultation time there was not even a hint of the moon, and we could do nothing but console each other with the knowledge that this time we had at least seen the moon, which was better than the last two attempts.
Don brought his field kettle, Jackie brought hot cocoa and Jim brought his propane heater, and so after a goodly long while in the cold and dark we huddled together to warm ourselves, inside and out. My thanks to all for making this chill night more warm and bearable.
As the night wore on a small break to the north gave us the promise of seeing Comet Holmes, and soon all binoculars were searching the skies. As if Binbrook held some magical quality, a large and very transparent hole appeared directly over the park and stayed there for the remainder of the night, allowing us to observe the comet and many other wonderful sights. The comet was directly beside Mirfak, and as I had not seen it for a few days, I was interested to see how it had changed. It was barely visible to the naked eye, partly because it has been dimming, but also partly because of its proximity to Mirfak, which cast enough glare to interfere with the comet. Don's little achromat showed a lovely disk to Mars, and we were able to discern dark surface markings, a sure sign that Mars is nearing its closest approach in a little over a month, and a testament to the fine optics of Don's scope. The open clusters of the winter constellations, the Andromeda galaxy, the Pleiades, and a good look at not just the great nebula, but all the regions in the sword of Orion were part of a fine night of observing through Don's scope. The seeing was excellent and the transparency was good too, as we could pick out the winter Milky Way quite easily. Don may have even spotted Uranus through the clouds that surrounded our magical window over the park - not an easy feat! Jim put his scope to good use by obtainig some fine images of the moon, which he shared with the rest of us. Finally, we were able to observe both the moon and the star that had earlier been occulted, thus bringing us one step closer to our first successful grazing occultation session.
We carried our good spirits to the nearest Tim Horton's for the traditional observer's doughnuts and coffees, and finished a fine night with good conversation and company. Indeed, another successful occultation expedition for the HAA.
Update by Don Pullen
Excellent report John and my thanks for doing this.
It really was a good night. It was the cloest we've come to having success with a lunar grazing occultation in our 3 attempts. As John indicated, we saw the moon peaking through the clouds up to half an hour before the time approached, but then we got socked in by clouds. By the time they cleared over the moon again an hour after the time for the occultation, we could see the star approximately 1 moon diameter away. So close. Next time we'll nail it!
I had a great time with Jim, Jackie and John. I guess the afternoon snow scared everyone else away, but when the hole opened up, we had very steady skies and great seeing for several hours. We even saw a few meteors whose radiant appeared to be the early stages of the Leonids. Well worth the trip and cold temps. We were lucky that there wasn't any wind until late which helped to keep the low temps more bearable.
I can hardly wait for our next try. At least we're getting closer and eventually we'll bag a proper grazing occultation. My thanks for the fun company last night - we really do have a great observing and sociable club.
I did get a chance to get out and do some imaging last weekend and also a few days ago. I wanted to try IC 1805 Heart Nebula. Well what can I say... other than this is one tough object. TimH told me one day that IC meant 'I can't C' :) Funny, but true. For this object I had to process my individual raw file and stretch with levels in order to get a bearing on where it was on the frame... then I attempted to re-frame it. This took me a good half hour. Then I started the 3min exposures at ISO 1600 totalling up to 2.5 hrs. After stacking, I saw absolutely nothing but then loaded it in PS and tried to work some magic with layer masks, curves, filters... you name it I did it. Anyway in conclusion: it is possible to image a faint hydrogen alpha target with an unmodded DSLR camera and no LP filter under mag 5.5 skies... but not without a lot of work. It was pretty much overhead at the time so that probably really helped.
Canon 40D with 80mm APO (full frame)
Holmes, Mirfak and Mellote 20 taken with the camera lens... which was piggybacked.
I added a comment to a posting more than a week ago that Hubble was scheduled to look at Comet Holmes. I've been looking around since then to find them. Well finally some of the pictures have been released.
Follow the link to BadAstronomy blog site to see some of the pictures.
One of the pictures show a montage with a ground based image taken by Alan Dyer. I think some of our club members have taken images that easily compare. Way to go HAA AP'ers!
Tonight, it was clear, for a while anyway -- long enough to have another opportunity to photograph Comet 17P Holmes outside my front door in Burlington, so, here's one of my better shots I took tonight. Tamron 300mm lens @ f/2.8; Canon Digital Rebel 300D; ISO 400; 53 second exposure. Cropped. A quickly-processed "rough cut".
The comet appears beside Mirfak (Alpha Persei, that bright blob of a star on the right).
It was clear last night, of course. That's because I hadn't expected it to be and hadn't made any plans. The fact that our main scope is temporarily down until Monday is also a major factor, I'm sure. The astronomy gods love taunting me.
The first thing I did when I discovered it was clear was to grab Alex, our binoculars and the laser pointer (thanks again Steve!!) and dash outside to show Alex the comet. It was late and she was only moderately enthusiastic. I was afraid it would cloud over any second, but there were no clouds. Amazing. I was surprised to see that Comet Holmes had gotten so big and dim since the last time I'd seen it. However, it was still visible naked eye in the light pollution and prominent in the binoculars. Alex was impressed.
I had left my CG-5 mount set up and aligned in the SkyShed from the last time I was out there a week ago, so I grabbed my 4" scope and camera and dashed out. I spent the next two hours re-aligning my "already aligned" mount (@#%$!), then taking photos of the comet for about two hours. I've included one of them here. Unprocessed and compressed for your viewing pleasure. Exposure was 30 seconds, ISO800, f/6 500 mm (4" refractor). I took a number of these as well as some dark, bias and flat field frames. I will post the stacked, processed image once I have a chance to.
Update: I've posted the stacked and processed version of this photo below. There is a bit more detail visible. I think the concentric rings in the halo are an artifact of the processing stage. Comments?
Stacked and processed Comet Holmes image
I took this image of Comet Holmes last Friday and then majorly stretched (enhanced) it to see if I could see a similar tail to what I have seen in some very recent images online.
2 min exposures totaling ~48min with the Sky-watcher 80mm
Just thought I would pass on this interesting news article that Bill found on the front page of the CBC website.
I arrived at the Binbrook main gate at 8:00pm - shortly after KerryAnn then Don showed up. I stayed until just after 11:00pm when my camera battery was just about to die - Don and Kerry were still hunting DSO's when I left.
I imaged using my new Canon 40D and timer remote through my Sigma 50-500 APO lens - I imaged at 191mm so I could leave the setup on auto-pilot (no guiding required) taking series of 2 minutes exposures for the Pleiades and 10 second exposures for the comet. The Pleiades and the comet:
UPDATE By: KerryLH
As Tim mentioned, I also did some imaging. This time I concentrated on NGC253 Sculptor Galaxy. This almost edge on spiral galaxy looked fairly large and bright in the 6in SCT. Surprising, considering how close it is to the horizon. It is also very cool to be able to see some mottling in the eyepiece. I'm sure larger scopes will show much more.
Don wanted me to get a widefield image of Holmes... so here it is. I stacked a few 3 minute frames. I saw a pic on the web showing a very large and faint tail emanating from the soft edge and fanning out towards Mirfak and Delta Perseus. Pretty interesting eh? Anyway it is really hard to see, but the large fanning tail(extremely faint green hue) is just barely detectable in the image below. I will do another widefield image of this region... but with much longer and many more exposures to see if I can capture it better.
Below is another image which is a composite to try and show the very faint green outer halo and the bright compact inner core. Exposures ranged between 2 minutes and 30 seconds at iso800
Note: I posted a few more pics below in Glenn's post as well.
I took some more pictures of Comet 17P Holmes just after midnight on Saturday, November 3, 2007 from outside my front condo door.
This comet has certainly grown over the last several days, and, I'm wondering if that's an ever-so-slight hint of a tail inside the inner coma at about 5:00 relative to the nucleus.
Here's a cropped version of one of my 20 second exposures, colour-balanced, at ISO 200 through my Tamron 300mm lens @ f/2.8 + Canon Digital Rebel 300D:
Here's an overexposed colour-balanced and gamma-corrected image; as above, but a 2 minute exposure:
Kerry, Gail and I got together for an observing/imaging session, last night. Naturally the comet was high on the list for both. An amazing sight in our 6" reflector, yet it wasn't until Kerry captured a few images on her computer that we noticed it seemed to have a well-defined bow-front on one edge of the halo and the opposite edge had softened. A closer visual inspection through our dob confirmed it, and the fact that it looks that way in Mike's picture (below) seals the deal. I'm wondering it if has something to do with sunlight defining the bow-front and the "back-end" being in shade - what do you think..
To me it no longer looks like little Comet Cutie but more like Comet PacMan -LOL! Hopefully Kerry can upload her image(s) soon for a comparison.
I also wandered across an object I hadn't logged before: NGC 6819. This is a small, compact, open cluster described in the Night Sky Observers Guide as "a small splash of stars". They range from about mag 11 on up and, within the star field that is part of the Milky Way stream, the cluster is reminiscent of M71. It has also been called the Foxhead Cluster but I couldn't see any relation.
Although we were enjoying each other's company, the low temperatures turned the heavy dew into frost that soon coated everything not generating heat. We reluctantly packed up but I'm sure it won't be long before we're once again checking out "Comet What's Next".
Update By KerryLH:
Sorry for the late image post... I finally got around to organizing and processing.
Helix was a tough target since it was pretty low and also very faint. I didn't have much luck with tracking and guiding either... I might attempt this again another time
As Glenn mentioned there is a soft edge to the comet. Look along the lower right edge. 30sec exposure, stretched. It is getting more diffuse so longer exposure are needed now with my f10 scope.
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