Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Comet PANSTARRS, Viewed From Southern Arizona

Here's the comet PANSTARRS as it appeared last night from The Highlands on Dove Mountain, north of Tucson. I headed out for an evening walk and tucked my trusty Sony Cyber-Shot with the hand-held twilight function on it into my pocket. I knew that the comet would be visible shortly after sunset.

What I didn't know is that lots of other folks had the same idea, so when I got to my chosen viewing spot, there were two cameras on tripods, a set of binoculars, people and golf cars, all waiting for the crescent moon and the comet to appear. I stationed myself near a saguaro cactus so that I would have a point of reference when the moon appeared.

Here's how to find the comet:

In the photo the moon is to the left of the cactus. Move your eye down to the horizon and find the mountain to the left of the cactus. Now move your eye up from the peak (it is jagged) and look for a smudge in the sky, just a little higher than the moon. That's the comet. In this image you can kind of make out a bit of a tail.

You may have to move your monitor or screen a bit to make out the smudge. Remember that you can click on the image to see it by itself.

Here's a closer image with the comet circled. I did some adjusting of the photo, but did not add anything to it. Photoshop people will recognize these tools. Curves, levels, sharpening, etc. Once again, as I have said in this blog before, the Sony point-and-shoot does a remarkable job of capturing an image in the night sky.

Tomorrow I will have to try the tripod and Nikon.

Copyright 2013
Wanda Hayes Eichler

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