Two Comets in the 
Morning Sky
May 16th, 2013

Uploaded 5/17/13


 There has never been a comet in the decades of comet imaging I have done that is quite like comet Panstarrs. A persistent sun ward pointing spike, or "Anti-Tail" has been a dominant feature of this object, now faded to around magnitude 7.3 and very near the pole in Cepheus. As you can see in the image below, the comet has a basic dust fan pointing to the upper left, and a very peculiar spike pointing straight down. This is the Anti-Tail and is very rare in comets in general because of the unique geometry required to see them.

The second image is Comet Lemmon now very low in the eastern sky, around 10 degrees up here - and brighter at around 5.5 magnitude. While not visible to the naked eye, this and comet Panstarrs are easily seen in the 11x80 binoculars and it was fun to rapidly sweep back and forth between the two objects and compare them. No two comets are ever alike exactly, but Lemmon does look more typical with a short broad fan pointing to around 2:00 here and the gas tail nearly at noon.

Both images are 1 minute sub frames stacked to register the comet, not the stars which in both images can be seen as short trails from the comets motion.

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Select an image size for a larger view: 1290 x 960 1600 x 1200
Lens: 80mm f/4.6 Stellarvue / Zeiss APO Platform: Televue GEM Exposure: 15m Panstarrs, 20m Lemmon Location: Payson, Arizona Elevation: 5150 ft. Sky: Seeing 7/10, Transparency 8/10 Outside Temperature: 50F Processing Tools: Maxim DL, Photoshop CS2 HOME GALAXIES EMISSION NEBS REFLECTION NEBS COMETS GLOBULARS OPEN CLUST PLANETARIES LINKS