C/2015 V2 Johnson - A spectacular comet

Submitted by jimwcoleman

While most people in my home town of Port Orchard, Washington slept, a couple of amazing comets crossed the sky overhead. One of them, comet C/2015 V2 Johnson, is pictured here in all its glory.

This was photographed with an 8" Meade LX200R with a Canon 60D at prime focus. No filters or reducers were used. 90x65 second subs, stacked with manual 1-star alignment using Maxim DL software.

The "streaks" in the photograph are stars. This is over-simplifying it but comets move across the sky, faster and usually in a different direction than the normal sidereal motion of the stars. As a result, when tracking the comet with a camera, the background stars appear as streaks in the time exposures. The "break" in the streaks is where atmospheric conditions were unstable momentarily, and I snipped that segment from the final picture.

The comet, currently magnitude 6.8, will appear as a fuzzy ball in good binoculars or a small telescope. It is currently located in the constellation Bootes, between the Great Hercules Cluster and the bright star Arcturus. There is a link to a monthly star chart on the home page of this website - that will help you find the general area of the sky. Additionally, I have attached a helper map to this post (image courtesy of theskylive.com). From the Pacific Northwest, it will be high in the sky toward the east after sundown. The very bright object to the south is Jupiter. :)

In a day or two, I will post a tutorial on how you can get a picture like this, too.

And yes, that comet is still overhead at night and will be throughout the rest of the month. :)

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