In my opinion, and as one of the top comet trackers in the world, I can say without hesitation that Michael Jager is beyond a doubt the finest comet photographer today. His images are always well planned and very perfectly processed without exception. Just like the 6-hour drive to the Alps to escape local weather conditions, he seems to always come up with some solution to capture the best of all the comets.
Click to get an enlarged version of the incredible photograph taken by comet photographer Michael Jager, who traveled 6 hours to the Austrian Alps in search of clear and dark skies in which to obtain this most remarkable photograph.
This shows Comet c2011 L4 (PANSTARRS) with its remarkable fanned tail below the Great Andromeda Galaxy *Messier 31* and even a random meteor streaking across the sky at the top of the photograph; a faint silhouette of the mountains is seen at the lower left. You can clearly see the dust lanes and Messier 32 as well in this image, which shows absolutely no sky glow and no light pollution, something rare for today's astronomers.
Photo was taken after sunset (19:00 UT) on April 1, 2013. His equipment consisted of a Leica-APO-Tele 180mm f/4 lens with a Sigma 6303 CCD camera.
Hats off to Michael for this rarest of all astrophotos. This has been posted on ASO with Michael Jager's permission.
NOTE that this is NOT a full resolution posted image, as it had to be greatly reduced in order to fit on the ASO Forum restrictions.
Wow, that surprises me....are you sure that you had the right field? The comet is right now at mag. 4.0 and is highly concentrated with a huge fanned tail; the tail is quite faint but the head of the comet is quite intense and appears stellar in a small to medium telescope. You may have been looking right at it, and assumed it was a bright star.
Defintely a keeper. Let us hope that this does not fall into the wrong hands as happened with Hale-Bopp, where a tiny object was spotted "following" the comet's nucleus and the soothesayers of the world interpreted it as - what else? - a UFO following the comet closely so that it could not be detected from Earth; they were coming under the ghostly veil of Comet Hale-Bopp to destroy the world according to cult-masters worldwide. We all know the outcome of that.
Nice catch and it actually would have been a very nice image of the comet if the intruder not happened by.
Very sorry about the issues; I do know of some folks who are running MPECsort on Windos 8, but as I remember it was a bit tricky to install. In my opinion, Microsoft has introduced the worst operating system ever in Windows 8 (this does not include of course Milennium and Vista); it was compile to appease gamers and folks with media devices and it has left an huge void in the practical appllications of office, science, research and all other computer use.
Many people that I discuss this with refer to Windows 8 as "Microsoft Comic Book Edition" because of all the flashy icons and things included to impress rather than to function.
All of my observatory and office computers are equipped with XP and will remain so; MS is discontinuing support for XP next year, but have have plenty of backup on hand and will use it until they come to their senses and put back in place a workhorse, rather than gaming, platform.
I am expecting my computers to outlive me, obviously.
I am sure that Keith has better insight on this than I , but if it were me, I would reinstalled Netframework 4.0 AND Netframework 2.0; both can exist in your program files. For what it is worth, I have all of my MPECsort programs (MPECsort, Crystal Reports, .netframework) all installed in the Program Files. At one point I had the MPECsort program in a custom AstroPrograms folder on one machine and had difficulty with it until I moved all of them into Program Files.
But as to removing the Windows 8 installed Netframework 4.0, I think that might be the problem; you may need that version for the computer to recognize the internal operations of W-8 enough to open the program. I suspect that 4.0 will work just as well as 2.0, but the oldest version that supports the MPECsort program I believe is 2.0.
The answer, briefly, is: you never know how many comets you might have in one year....or even a decade. In 1957 there were two huge comets; in 1965 three, in 1973-75 there were five.
There is a discussion going on right now among comet observers about "Great Comets" and what constitutes just that; the problem is that we now know so much about comets that we confuse actual PHYSICAL information about the ones we know that was not available to observers in antiquity. Below, I share my take on this in response to whether or not PanStarrs was a "Great Comet".....and for that matter Hale-Bopp, which I consider to be a mediocre comet at best compared to the great ones that I have seen since 1957:
************ From Doc Clay: (when asked about how the Great Comet of 1811 would stack up with the huge physical size of Hale-Bopp)
"This is precisely my point: we should not re-define or combine what we today consider "great" since our understanding and ability to understand the physical characteristics of a comet are far better in today's science than they were with comets of antiquity. Those were, to state it simply, were bright, large and in some cases terrifying orbs in the sky....truly "great" to those who had not before seen such a sight. Those folks did not know how intrinsically large the comet was, nor did they even know what it was comprised of. They did not know in most cases that the comet was even going to "show up" one morning or evening. Suddenly there is a bright, ghostly orb in the sky where there had not been one only weeks before.
That would have been a great sight, no doubt.
There are comets of great mass, comets with great lengths to their tails, and comets we _know_ are massive but do not appear "great" because of their conditions under which we observe them....such is exactly the case of Panstarrs this year. It is doing great by astronomical and scientific standards, but it is not a "great comet" in terms of overall appearance.
I have no idea that it is even worth the pursuit to DEFINE what constitutes a great comet; all of them are great in their own ways, just like individual humans for the most part. To me there should be several criteria to make a comet memorable, however (this has nothing whatsoever to do with the physical makeup nor dynamics of the comet):
1) overall _apparent_ size in the sky, including the size and length of the tail; 2) magnitude and visibility to the naked eye 3) visibility in daylight 4) durability/duration of the comet (how long it hangs around in the sky for all to see) 5) obvious rapid relative motion to those who view it 6) activity of the comet, including obvious changes in tail structure, orientation, breakups, etc. that affect all of the criteria 1-4, above.
So, no matter how "great" a comet can be in size and composition (i.e., the failure of Comet Kohoutek based on its apparent brightness and estimated mass when far from the sun), we must strive to continue to assess "Great Comets" so that our consideration takes into account comets of antiquity for which no intrinsic physical statistics were available or were poorly known.
Clay _____ Dr. P. Clay Sherrod Arkansas Sky Observatories MPC H45 - Petit Jean Mountain South MPC H41 - Petit Jean Mountain MPC H43 - Conway West http://www.arksky.org/
Hi Roger....I am hoping that Keith Yohn will spot this question soon; he is busy with a new set of twin daughters. I am certainly not a computer expert and Keith did all of the excellent programming on MPECsort; however, the program should run just fine on Windows 8 (I do not have any experience with W-8), since we have several users that have installed it and are currently using it. Did you install the two ancillary programs (.netframework and Crystal Reports) directly from the links on the installation/download page on ASO?
Note that MPECsort will go into an automatic search for an updated version once installed and you should let it do this; sometimes it moves a bit slow on machines that are heavily loaded and it is best to let each page cycle thoroughly before pressing any buttons.
So, as I understand it, you are not even able to see the screen with the tabs to generate and update the reports?
In the meantime, hoping that Keith will chime in here, I would double check to see that at least version 2.0 of netframework shows up on your Programs Installed/Uninstall list, as well assure that Crystal Reports is fully installed. If either of them glitched during installation it might affect the outcome.
Note that we do have it so that MPECsort will run on both 32- and 64-bit machines.
Hi Ron.....yes, things are changing in the wrong direction for Comet ISON, but it is still to early to either promote or doom its performance. There has been a lot of speculation in both directions on many professional discussion groups but the comet is still a long way out.
Indeed our own observations here using very carefully meade densitometer measurements for CCD photometery (this is not just "click and save" photometry....it is the real thing with adjustable aperture control and sky background equation adjustments), have shown not just a magnitude drop (steady but slight) as well as a drop in size and overall coma intensity which is the concerning thing for me. Sometimes the overall brightness of a comet will decline slightly as the comet adjusts with a larger expanse of coma or perhaps more length to the tail, but this is not happening at this time with ISON.
Below is the comprehensive study of ISON thus far from ASO H45:
P. Clay Sherrod, A.S.O. CCD Photometry
H1 = m1 - 5 log D + g (20 -b)
2012/3 UT m1 DIA (") D r b Dmphase log r H1 H1+Dmphase Oct 30.xx 17.9 7 5.728 5.909 9.6 0.468 0.771514 14.10998 14.57798 Nov 20.xx 17.2 8 5.178 5.697 8.9 0.4995 0.755646 13.62919 14.12869 Nov 25.xx 17.1 5 5.054 5.646 8.5 0.5175 0.751741 13.58182 14.09932 Dec 05.xx 16.6 9 4.819 5.544 7.4 0.567 0.743823 13.18522 13.75222 Dec 13.xx 16.8 11 4.647 5.461 6.3 0.6165 0.737272 13.46414 14.08064 Dec 18.xx 16.6 7 4.548 5.398 5.3 0.6615 0.732233 13.3109 13.9724 Jan 14.xx 15.7 15 4.151 5.123 1.9 0.8145 0.709524 12.60924 13.42374 Jan 18.xx 17.3 12 4.114 5.08 2.4 0.792 Jan 31.xx 16.1 12 4.033 4.938 5 0.675 0.693551 13.07186 13.74686 Feb 03.xx 15.4 10 4.023 4.905 5.7 0.6435 0.690639 12.37725 13.02075 Feb 06.xx 15.3 12 4.015 4.872 6.3 0.6165 0.687707 12.28157 12.89807 Feb 09.xx 15.4 11 4.01 4.839 7 0.585 0.684756 12.38428 12.96928 Feb 14.xx 15.9 11 4.008 4.784 8 0.54 0.679791 12.88536 13.42536 Feb 18.xx 16 10 4.011 4.739 8.8 0.504 0.675687 12.98374 13.48774 Feb 24.xx 15.8 8 4.022 4.672 9.9 0.4545 0.669503 12.77779 13.23229 Feb 28.xx 16.1 9 4.034 4.627 10.5 0.4275 0.665299 13.07132 13.49882 Mar 03.xx 15.9 11 4.045 4.593 11 0.405 0.662096 12.86541 13.27041 Mar 06.xx 15.9 11 4.057 4.559 11.4 0.387 0.65887 12.85897 13.24597 Mar 08.xx 15.7 11 4.065 4.536 11.7 0.3735 0.656673 12.6547 13.0282 Mar 12.xx 15.8 11 4.084 4.491 12.2 0.351 0.652343 12.74457 13.09557
We were set up at the Palisades, a spectacular bluff that looks off the western edge of the mountain. Nothing but a pocket digital camera and a pair of binoculars....funny thing, there were about 15 people who showed up, some with telescopes, to view the comet. We were the only ones who found it and could see it....I frantically went around trying to instruct on where the comet was, relative to the moon, but folks just did not listen; only talked.
Ron's comment that we saw it with the naked eye is only partly true....it was indeed 1.1 mag., but very very difficult visually without the 10 x 50's. I could glimpse it very early, but as it sank lower into the atmosphere, it disappeared quickly to the naked eye. It is not show up anywhere as obvous to the eye as it the photo.
Attached is a digital photograph of Comet c2012 L4 PANSTARRS.
Here is a view of Comet 2012 L4 PanStarrs from the Arkansas Sky Observatories on the west edge of Petit Jean Mountain tonight, March 12 at about 8:15 p.m. local time. The thin crescent moon is seen above distant Mount Magazine to the west. This is a 4 second exposure with a simple digital camera.
Photo by Clay and Patsy Sherrod, Petit Jean Mountain
Clay _____ Dr. P. Clay Sherrod Arkansas Sky Observatories Harvard MPC H45 - Petit Jean Mountain South MPC H41 - Petit Jean Mountain MPC H43 - Conway West http://www.arksky.org/
Congrats to those who have seen it post-perihelion; I have not been so fortunate. Thinking that I had a shot to do some detailed work on it from the observatory, I was poised and ready and tracking early on it, only to find that the angle of descent as it was setting was taking it behind a tree by the time it would have been visible in the CCD cameras.
So, I shut off the equipment, and loaded up some portable stuff in a rush and left out for a spectacular west overlook here on the mountain; by the time I go things out and set up the comet had set.
Good planning on my part but horrible execution. Cloudy here today and I missed an absolutely perfect night last evening.
By the way, this comet is underpeforming considerarbly from the wild claims and forercasts that were being hurled out last month. Right before perihelion, it was quite obvious that this was not going to be a great comet; perhaps good comet in the two weeks to come as it gets higher in the sky, but it will also be fading rapidly as it does.