The Green Comet

…As referred to by the current news articles. But casting ones gaze through binoculars and even my 8″ telescope yielded C/2022 E3 (ZTF) as – a fuzzy gray star.

Sorry to say that in real life that it’s only green through a camera, making the news reports seem overblown. It’s still amazes me how far modern cameras exceed our human eyes, limited by their biological pixels of rods and cones.

Still, it was gratifying to get a couple of nice nights in early February. Nights where the fickle Adirondack weather brought temperatures dipping “only” into the upper-twenties. Finally, I get out without freezing my tush too badly!

The nice thing about this comet though is its high elevation, and that it could actually be seen above the trees from my back deck during a window of an hour or so just after sunset. Good reasons to dig out the telescope and camera!

But boy, this comet was moving – fast! Even over the course of several minutes, the comet shifted against the starry background. I used the comet itself as the guide star, so that my auto-guider would lock onto it during several five-minute exposures. This brought the nucleus into focus against a moving background of stars, seen here as five-minute long streaks. I only got three frames after setting up and aligning the telescope and before the comet slid behind tree branches. I had to discard one frame with an egregiously bright satellite trail (darned SpaceX! Ruining the sky for all eight billion of us!). Anyway, this finally yielded a photo from my Canon T5i after some dark frame subtraction, and stretching and filtering to pull it from the noise.

Hey, I guess it really is green!

Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF). Two, five-minute exposures from my Canon T5i @ 1600iso and through a Celestron CPC-800.

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