måndag 25 mars 2013

Comet Timelapse

Early in the evening on March 20, when the bright comet Pan-STARRS came out from the twilight, I decided to make a timelapse, using a 200mm and a 300mm telephoto lens, as the comet was setting behind the mountains.

Up here in Tromsø, the weather continues to block out the night-sky, and it was only on March 20-21 that the sky cleared up, but when it did - it revealed an amazing show.
The comet is now climbing higher and higher up in the sky for each night and, if the weather co-operates, it is now circumpolar and possible to see all the time, provided it is dark enough.
As the comet is leaving the inner solar system, it also fades in brightness, so now is the time to grap the chance of seeing this icy visitor before it's too late - next time it returns to the inner solar system is not until approximately 110 000 years.

onsdag 20 mars 2013

Comet + Auroras

Tonight a dream that I have had for a very long time has come true - seeing a bright comet and auroras together in the night sky.

First comet Pan-STARRS set behind the mountains at the locality I was shooting at just 5 minutes before the auroras turned up, but driving to another locality with a clear view to the north-western horizon revealed a sight that I will never forget! Pan-STARRS was now even easily visible to the naked eye and a truely wonderful sight.


tisdag 19 mars 2013

Comet Panstarrs - Finally a gap in the clouds !

After a difficult and long waiting-period, with amazing photos from all over the world buzzing in the media, I finally got to see comet C/2011 L4 Panstarrs this evening!
The sky over Tromsø here in Northern Norway has been covered in clouds and snow ever since the comet became theoretically visible here in the northern hemisphere, but tonight, a small, but sufficient gap in the cloud-cover revealed the beautiful comet for a while before the clouds rolled in again.
Not much time for composing the image when the clouds finally revealed it, a bit higher up then I had expected, but a few quick snap-shots with a 300mm lens captured the comet nicely. I was surprised it was so bright that it was even possible to see it with the naked eye!


fredag 15 mars 2013

Freckles on the Sun

This morning started with sunshine, and with a solar face so full of freckles, spring can't be far away now...

torsdag 14 mars 2013

Comet C/2011 L4 PANSTARRS

Having graced the skies in the southern hemisphere for a while, the bright comet C/2011 L4 PANSTARRS has now passed perihelion - its closest approach to the Sun - and the first positive sightings have been reported from northern Europe as the comet recently swung into the skies of the northern hemisphere.

I tried to see the comet yesterday evening, which was probably the first chance to catch a glimpse of it here from Tromsø in Northern Norway, but less than an hour before sunset the clouds rolled in and covered all the western horizon, blocking the comet from view.

Right now, while bright, the comet is still fairly close to the Sun and may be difficult to spot simply because it is seen against such a bright background twilight sky, but for each day now the comet will become increasingly easy to spot (at least if the weather co-operates...) since it will be seen against a darker sky for each night as it travels away from the Sun.

At the same time, however, its brightness is predicted to drop (unless it catches us by surprise as comets have a tendency to do), but the following weeks/s should nevertheless offer a nice evening view of this icy wanderer as it climbs higher and higher up in the sky and if not a naked-eye object it should be an easy target in a pair of binoculars.

Right now, to find the comet, look for it fairly low due west after sunset. For more details on where to locate the comet, consult Skyhounds excellent finder charts here. In appearance, it should look something like the famous comet C/2006 P1 McNaught (photo below), but not as bright as McNaught was.

Comet PANSTARRS should look something like the famous Comet C/2006 P1 McNaught
(but it is not as bright as McNaught was) as seen here on a photo from Tromsø, 8 January 2007

Happy comet hunting!