2015-1-14: Comet Lovejoy is Out and Moving Fast! ⬅︎
Lovejoy is the first comet that we've tried to image here at Starry Hill. Because comets are typically dim and fast-moving, they can be challenging targets as Lovejoy proved to be.

We first tried taking exposures through our large, 12-inch telescope under the dome. But because this telescope requires longer exposures and the comet is moving so quickly, this resulted in a blurry, elongated image. No good.

So we switched to a small, 3-inch telescope and short exposures and.... we got much better results. The image above is a combination of 49, ten-second exposures.

What are comets? They can be thought of as dirty snowballs. Many are about the size of Mt. Rainier. If one ever approaches the sun, the heat and wind from the sun cause melting and blowing of the comet's loosened debris into space forming a dust ball or tail that can be thousands and even millions of miles in length. If earth then travels through the debris, shooting stars in earth's sky are the results!

Lovejoy will be visible in our skies until around the end of February. Look in the Calendar section for a map.