The early hours of the 8th of January were not for the faint hearted. Although the ambient temperature was well above freezing the wind chill here on the UK east coast was significant. After a couple of hours outside I needed a hot cup of industrial strength Marmite to thaw out my inner self. On a positive note the sky was clear of cloud and significant moonlight. I thus set foot to first view Comet Catalina through my big bins and then photograph it.
The comet was far too low in the north east for me to use my big refractor- so bins it was. I store my dustbins in a fenced enclosure on the north side of our house, sounds grand but isn't, and so balancing my bins on the bin enclosure fence I discovered that the comet had conveniently raised itself above Arcturus such that said balanced bins pointed straight at the comet. In the past I have not found comets to be so accommodating.
I must say with the street lights off after midnight, my 80x11 bins did a good job of showing the comet albeit quite a small image. With averted vision I could clearly see the spread of light between the two tails. Nice!
I then spent an hour and a bit with fixed tripod, Canon 600D DSLR and EOS 18-55mm lens, snapping away like a good-un! Twenty or so RAW images later, raw- well the wind was, I returned to the warmth of our house. Today I have done what my partner, Toot, describes as 'cheating' using a number of software programmes to collate and enhance my snaps. I have attached the resultant annotated image for your inspection!
The reasons why I like comets a lot!
They are truly exotic denizens of the deep.
Their astronomical configuration, position and luminosity are constantly changing in real time.
They are often hard to locate, they disappear and sometimes reappear.
They are very old but have the appearance of youth.
Their performance is unpredictable.
They are sometimes spectacular and always exquisite.
They travel alone.
They are evaporated and reinvigorated by sunlight.
They are driven and destroyed by gravity.
They might have created all life on earth and may one day end it.