168P/Hergenrother – Comet

This is the second comet I have gotten since I got into astronomy. Currently 168P/Hergenrother, discovered in November of 1998, had a minor outburst causing it to increase in magnitude, it went from a faint magnitude 15 to magnitude ~9. 168P can be found currently within the constellation of Pegasus, traveling in a northern direction as it makes it’s way into Andromeda near the end of the month. This sudden outburst occurred as it passed through perihelion on October 1st, and erupted unexpectedly, and dramatically.

168P/Hergenrother path for the month of October

A discussion in the early morning of October 13 Peter Lake, Hamant Kumar, Shahrin Ahmad, and the comets discoverer, Carl Hergenrother did a Google+ hangout discussing his comet hunting, and the current flaring up of 168P, he also shows the images he discovered the comet in. Informative hangout that I would recommend watching if you’re interested in comets at all.

Through the telescope it was hard to tell the difference between it and the background stars. With higher magnification it was a little easier to see the small faint tail behind the comets nucleus.

168P/Hergenrother 10-12-12

168P/Hergenrother with trails 10-12-12

I had quite a bit of difficulty getting this comet to show any color. I also stretched this image as much as I could without adding too much artifact to the image. Both images above are 19 images stacked with 10 dark frames, most of the post processing was done within Deep Sky Stacker itself, with a little touch up in Photoshop.

First image is with the stars and comet stacked separately then stacked on each other with no trailing of the stars or comet. The second image is just the comet stacked showing some star trailing due to the motion of the comet.

Omni XLT 150 with CG-4 mount
Canon 350D
T-ring adapter
DIY Reticle eyepiece for drift alignment

A Meteor in Pegasus

Tonight I decided to put my camera out in an attempt to do some time lapse photography of the stars. It started off good but quickly became cloudy and not too interesting. Although when going through my images I got to make the video I came across one I really liked. It’s of the constellation Pegasus and going through it is a meteor. I checked for satellites for my location and the time the picture was taken and found none in the area at the time. Not only is there the bright, yet short meteor, but you can also just make out a fuzzy galaxy to the left in the picture. That galaxy is Andromeda, and I was hoping to get it going across the sky tonight. If you’re having trouble spotting Andromeda in the picture look to the left of the picture for 3 stars going up slightly curved. At the top of those three stars you can just make out Andromeda.

Edit: I have just found out that there is a meteor shower from September 25 to December 6 called the Andromedids. The radiant is, you guessed it, in Andromeda which means this short bright meteor is part of that meteor shower. Currently this meteor shower at it’s peak (November 14) is extremely weak with an estimated 3 meteors per hour. These meteors come from associated comet 3D/Biela which broke up and possibly caused a large outburst back in 1872 and 1885. More on the Andromedids here for a more detailed explanation on the meteor shower.

Also something else neat about the Andromedids. In 1885 the first meteor ever photographed was an Andromedid by Ladislaus Weinek in Prague. Info from this link on Google Books, from the book Meteor Showers and Their Parent Comets. The part I think is the coolest is that this is MY first picture of a meteor ever taken, which just so happens to be an Andromedid. Pretty neat stuff!

 Click to enlarge.

Edit: I am now only including the time-lapse from the picture above since having all 3 available here made the blog load really slow.