Comet 64P/Swift-Gehrels

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rwilkinson
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Comet 64P/Swift-Gehrels

Post by rwilkinson » Tue Sep 18, 2018 2:54 pm

This is a faint periodic comet with a period of about nine years. Although it was discovered by Lewis Swift in 1889, its orbit wasn’t fully determined until 1973, thanks to observations by Tom Gehrels.

I tried to catch it from my garden in Bolton on last Wednesday, but had to wait until 9:30pm for it to clear the trees – at which time a cloud-bank rolled in and that was it for the night!
Over the following nights I tried to catch it again using remote telescopes New Mexico, but it was even cloudy there too.
Then last night I had another go from Bolton. The First Quarter Moon was low in the south, and there was a little hazy high cloud, but I still managed to get an image using my trusty C8 SCT:
64p_17sep.png
Comet 64P from Bolton on 17-Sep. 24x 90-sec using Mx716 on C8 at f/3.3
64p_17sep.png (181.54 KiB) Viewed 3550 times
This comet will be at its closest to Earth next month, but only reaches 10th magnitude. However, it will be well-placed for observation in the evenings, and passes within 5 degrees of the Andromeda Galaxies, so could make an interesting wide-field target at this time.

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rwilkinson
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Re: Comet 64P/Swift-Gehrels

Post by rwilkinson » Sat Sep 29, 2018 10:08 am

Last night I had another go at this comet, which is in the constellation of Andromeda (not far from Alpheratz).
It was just clear of the trees at the end of twilight, giving me an window of an hour or so before the moonlight got too bright.
Stacking my images taken over the course of an hour shows the comet as a streak, and also brings out several background galaxies:
backgd.png
Stack of 29x 90-sec with Mx716 on C8 at f/3.3
backgd.png (129.46 KiB) Viewed 3464 times
These galaxies are better shown on the same field from the Deep-Sky Survey:
DSS.png
The Deep-Sky Survey field shows a number of background galaxies
DSS.png (418.83 KiB) Viewed 3464 times
But when I aligned my images on the comet and re-stacked, it became a lot clearer:
64p_28sep.png
I re-aligned the 29 frames to keep the comet stationary
64p_28sep.png (172.83 KiB) Viewed 3464 times

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Re: Comet 64P/Swift-Gehrels

Post by rwilkinson » Mon Oct 15, 2018 6:16 pm

It's getting brighter now - last night I got a couple of hours' data, even while the Moon was still up:
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64p_14oct.png
Comet 64P on 14-Oct. 67x 90-sec with Mx716 on C8 at f/3.3
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rwilkinson
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Re: Comet 64P/Swift-Gehrels

Post by rwilkinson » Mon Nov 12, 2018 7:47 am

This comet is still well-placed in our evening sky: high up in Andromeda.
It's only around 10th magnitude, so it would be difficult to see in the eyepiece, but it shows up well on my CCD images.
64p_11nov.png
Comet 64P on 11-Nov. 35x 90-sec with C8 operating at f/3.3
64p_11nov.png (162.2 KiB) Viewed 3063 times
The trails of the background stars show how far it had moved over an hour and a half.

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Re: Comet 64P/Swift-Gehrels

Post by DRatledge » Thu Nov 15, 2018 2:49 pm

Shot it by accident last night - noticed it on the edge of my wide field image.

Like Ross's image above this was about 1 hour ie 14 x 5 mins exposures. It was taken with a Canon 60D on 4 inch Apo.
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