Comet PANSTARRS and a jet contrail

Posted by Karri Ferron
on Wednesday, March 20, 2013

John Chumack captured this image of Comet PANSTARRS just before it set. He used a Canon Rebel XSi DSLR with a 75mm f/6.3 lens. He set the camera to ISO 800 and took a 10-second exposure.
Astronomy magazine has received tons of fantastic images of Comet PANSTARRS over the past few weeks (see some of them in our special Comet PANSTARRS photo gallery and our Comets Reader Photo Gallery), and we unfortunately can’t highlight them all. But yesterday, frequent contributor John Chumack sent in some recent images I couldn’t help but share.

John was in the Philadelphia area March 14 on business. He had a clear evening, so he headed to Valley Forge National Park because it had a clear western horizon — perfect for checking out Comet PANSTARRS. John says the comet was difficult to see visually until about 30 minutes after the Sun set, but he notes that the view was fantastic through his 10x70 binoculars.

I loved the colors John captured in the first image of the setting comet, but it was the second one that really struck me. The aircraft contrail is a stunning contrast to Comet PANSTARRS (John says he saw lots of air traffic).

While imaging Comet PANSTARRS, Chumack managed to grab a passing jet in the same frame. He attached a Canon Rebel XSi DSLR to a 3.2-inch University Optics 80mm refractor at f/6. He took a 0.5-second exposure at ISO 800.
Great images, John!

And for all you need to know about Comet PANSTARRS, visit our special section on the solar system visitor at

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