To capture and see such a faint object like this you really need to have a very dark sky, at our last astronomy meeting in January it cleared enough for us to go outside and find the comet. I very quickly set up a tripod with a DSLR camera and using an 11-16mm lens and was able to capture an image. But, the sky was just too light and there was some high cirrus cloud so the comet was very faint…but I did manage to get a shot!
The next evening I set up my tripod again at home and took some images, but the lights in my neighbourhood were just too bright…check out the lens flare!
Finally on the weekend of the 16th to 18th January we were blessed with a clear new Moon weekend at my Stardust observatory at Leyburn…Woohoo!
My aim was to capture the whole comet with its magnificent tail, I wanted to get a wide field image because the comet was going to be close to the beautiful Pleiades star cluster in Taurus. So I attached a Canon 40D SLR camera with a Canon 70-200mm f2.8 lens to the top of my tracking Meade LX200 telescope. I then proceeded to do a series of ten 5-minute images that would be stacked later in DSS to bring out the faint tail in the comet.
Opening the lens right up to f2.8 produced too much light, so I stopped it down to f3.5 and only used ISO 800. After getting my shots it was then a very frustrating process of trying to stack them in Deep Sky Stacker.
Finally I found a wonderful YouTube video done by Doug Hubbell that explained how to stack on either the comet or the stars. My problem was I could not find the comet mode in the software…this video explained it all… I’m still working out how to combine the two images in PS; but I do like the star trail image, because it’s showing how quickly the comet's moving through the sky.
We only had a time frame of perhaps three weeks here in the Southern Hemisphere to observe the comet, but mostly it was cloudy, it then moved into the Northern Hemisphere sky where everyone has been enjoying it ever since. I’m so pleased I made the effort to go out to my observatory, even thought the forecast was for dreadful weather :-)