Sunday, October 9, 2011
Of Telescopes, Astronomers, and Comets
I repeatly wonder why I practice photography - especially astrophotography. It requires lots of equipment, time and effort. On Friday I had an engineering run on the 2.3 Meter Bok telescope on Kitt Peak. The moon was nearly full and didn't set until nearly 1.5 hours before morning twilight - leaving precious little time under dark skies. Knowing I was going to finish working on the BOk Telescope long before sunrise, I decided to bring my trusty Takahashi Astrograph and mount and attempt to photograph the early morning comet - 45P Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova. This periodic comet made a close pass to Earth earlier this year but was poorly placed for northern hemisphere observers. Now close to the sun in the early morning sky - photographing it was going to be a challenge. Though it is sporting a modest tail, it is buried in the morning zodical light and only achieves 12 degrees above the horizon before the onset of morning twilight. To make matters worse - from Kitt Peak I would have to shoot through the heavy glow of the city lights of Tucson. Sigh.