NASA expert and West Seattle resident Alice Enevoldson and husband Jason were in Lincoln Park on Friday evening looking for a sighting of comet Pan-STARRS on the western horizon. Enevoldson had input a photo of the western horizon to her smart phone and built a tracking graphic for sighting the comet as it traces an arc, traveling north. CLICK THE PHOTO TO SEE THE IMAGE OF THE COMET BY JASON GIFT
UPDATE: Searching for Comet Pan-STARRS in West Seattle; Spotted on March 15
Jason Ayeres Gift Enevoldsen got a photo of Comet PanSTARRS (full name C/2011 L4 PanSTARRS) from West Seattle's Lincoln Park on Friday March 15.
Enevoldsen shoots with a telescope equipped Nikon D800.
He explains, "This image is from 8:32pm on March 15th, 2013 from the South end of the beach at Lincoln Park. We watched for an hour, scanning back and forth to find the comet. It peeked out between the clouds for only about 3 minutes, before disappearing for the night.
I used two standard astrophotography techniques to get this image. First, I took many short exposures rather than one long exposure. Objects in the sky are moving as the Earth turns, and when you take images longer than about 1/4 second (at the magnification I was using) you will start to notice the blur on sky objects unless you use a telescope mount that tracks with the sky. Second, I used processing software to align and average the eleven short exposures together to make one image. Short exposures at high enough ISO to pick up dim objects in the sky also have a lot of noise: basically like the snow you used to see on an untuned television. Aligning and averaging the images, a process called stacking, allows you to reduce this problem.
The photographs used to make this image were taken with a Nikon D800, each at ISO 3200, 1/5th sec, through a 630mm focal length telescope at f7."
According to his wife, NASA expert Alice Enevoldsen "It was visible between the clouds for about three minutes," and the photo was captured at 8:32pm. The basic details on it are on her site here: http://www.alicesastroinfo.com/2013/03/photo-of-comet-panstarrs-from-wes...
NASA expert Alice Enevoldsen and husband Jason love comets and 2013 promises to be the "Year of the Comet" with no less than three visible from earth this year. The first, Comet Pan-STARRS was seen and photographed in the southern hemisphere last week and this week, if the skies are clear enough should be visible near and after sunset, to the naked eye above the western horizon in a gently ascending arc, moving north.
The Enevoldsens were in Lincoln Park at sunset and after Friday evening, looking at the area between the northern end of Vashon Island and the southern end of Blake Island in hopes of spotting Panstarrs and of course taking photographs.
A thin band of clouds covering roughly 1 and a half degrees of arc however foiled any view of the comet. But the couple will be back, weather permitting, to try again over the next few days as comet makes its closest approach to the sun on Sunday, March 10. It will pass 28 million miles from the sun then as it transits our solar system. It was closest to earth on March 5 when it was 102 million miles away.
The comet was discovered in June 2011 by astronomers whose instrument provided the comet's name. That device is called the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (PANSTARRS)and is located in Hawaii.
In late November another comet could be the brightest comet to pass by the Earth in many years. Comet ISON is expected to be visible during daylight hours as it comes within 800,000 miles of the sun.
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