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9 months ago
Due to developing weather situation, tonight's meeting is cancelled. Talk on Great Orion Nebula will be rescheduled for later in the year.
1 year ago
On Tue 26/9, astronomer Prof Martin Hendry is speaking in Fife - don't miss it!
1 year ago
Look out for us in today's Courier magazine!
2 years ago
Don't miss Chris and Pete’s Star Party Report (and other things) on Tue 22nd Nov.
2 years ago
Looking forward to Active Galaxies talk next Tue!

Find the Comet


Pan-Starrs from Limekilns

Comet C/2011 L4 (PANSTARRS) from Limekilns

This picture contains a comet. It’s not obvious, but it’s there. Click on the image to enlarge.

See it now? Half way up, right of centre?

In this picture, taken not long after sunset on 15th March 2013, the comet could easily be mistaken for a cloud, but there’s a clue – the large bank of cloud is dark against the sky glow. The comet is lighter.

Another clue, for those who were there on the night, is that the object has a different shape in the picture to that which we saw in binoculars. It moved slightly, downwards and to the right, during the 30-second exposure. The rotation of the earth is responsible, giving it some motion blur.

The way we knew where to look was by following star charts and using software such as Stellarium and Sky Safari.





Comet C/2011 L4 (PANSTARRS) from Braefoot


Here’s another picture, taken on 30th March 2013, later at night when it’s properly dark. (Again, click to enlarge.)

Can you see the comet?

Compare the photograph with the simulated view below. Can you match up the star patterns in the two images? (Hint: You might have to rotate one of the images to make things match up.)

Can you see anything else in the images that’s fuzzy and not star-like? What do you think it is?

Try downloading your own copy of Stellarium (or another similar program) and see if you can reproduce the simulated image and learn more about the other objects in the picture.


Simulated view of comet in night sky

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