The further adventures of Comet 12P-Pons_Brooks 27 April-27 May, 2024.


Comet 12P Pons-Brooks hype continues (the “once in a life-time” comet, which is true for most comets).  As the comet climbs of of the horizon murk, it remains binocular only, but we have been getting some nice images of it with a stubby tail.

the comet is still reasonably bright magnitude at 4.5, it remains low to the horizon over the next week or so. While it is slowly climbing above the horizon into darker skies, it is also slowly fading. You will
definitely need binoculars, unless you are in a dark sky location, and then it will look like a fuzzy dot.

From the 27th April to the 3rd May  the comet will be within binocular distance of star nu Taurii (see charts, sweep west of Aldebaran for around two binocular widths). Although the comet is magnitude 4.5 –  4.6  at this time and theoretically dimly visible to the unaided eye, atmospheric extinction will mean it is more like magnitude 5. The comet will still look like a faint fuzzy dot.

At nautical twilight (and hour after sunset) on the 27th, it is almost 2 hand-spans above the horizon and the darkening twilight skies should help you spot it.  At astronomical twilight (an hour and a half after sunset) it will be a hand-span above the horizon (and you will need a level, unobstructed horizon to see it.

Using an ordinary camera, try zooming in around 3x and using multiple 1 second ISO 3200 exposures, but nothing below ISO 1600. (I was success full with 1 second 3200 ISO, I have also done 2 and 4 second exposures, but I have an S24, so that’s cheating). I have yet to try stacking, there may be too few stars visible to stack reliably until later in the week.

There there are no good guide stars until 9-12 May when it is close to nu Eridanus (sweep west from Bellatrix), when it is around magnitude 5, and then it passes by Orion, and is with binocular distance of bright Rigel from the 18th-24th. Although 12P will be approaching magnitude 6, this should be an excellent opportunity for wide field astrophotography with the comet almost 3 hand-spans from the horizon at astronomical twilight, when the sky is fully dark, near the iconic Orion constellation, with the first quarter Moon not interfering too much.

Labels: 12P, astrophotography, binocular, comet

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