Comet Lulin
Comet Lulin
What has a head, two tails, leaks millions of gallons of water a day, and is green all over? A comet of course. This is my first attempt at imaging a comet with a CCD camera. It was perhaps even more challenging than normal deep sky objects (galaxies, nebula, etc), because comets move against the background of stars. So you get two choices — track on the comet and have the stars move or track on the stars and have the comet move. I did both, and combined the resulting images into one. This is what comet Lulin would appear like if one could see color through a telescope. Comets are essentially giant, dirty snowballs in space since they are made of mostly H20, dust, and trace carbon based gases. Comets do often have two visible tails — the usually fainter ion tail that points away from the sun, and the brighter dust tail pointing away from the comet's path of motion. Both are seen here. Also seen below is my first attempt one day earlier with about 1/2 the number of exposures. Note the difference in the ion tail in merely one day. Since many comets have traces of organic materials in them, some believe they may influence or even cause life to arise on planets. How idyllic it seems, that comets, shaped indeed like living sperm, may actually infuse life into otherwise unfertilized eggs, called planets..
Optics: Takahashi FS102 (102mm flourite lens, F8.2, 836mm F.L.) Date: February 22 2009
Camera: SBIG ST10XME with Adaptive Optics Location: Columbus, Texas
Exposure: LRGB = 50:50:50:50 minutes Imager: Kent E. Biggs
Comet Lulin