Comet C/2017 T2 (PANSTARRS) and the Double Cluster

Posted by Lionel Majzik
on Saturday, February 29, 2020
The comet featured one of the most beautiful conjunction of its celestial path on January 26 and 27, 2020, with the famous Double Cluster in the constellation Perseus (NGC 869, NGC 884). The winter cloudy season caught me, so I was only able to capture the comet a week later. Unfortunately, it was further away from the clusters but It was acceptable for my plan. I started shooting on the 1st of February in the evening, but despite the excellent transparency, there were a lot of hindrances. In addition to the light pollution of the Moon, which was almost 50% illuminated and 48 degrees away from the comet, I also had to contend with a stormy wind. Even though the small and relatively stable system, unfortunately, it often disrupted the guiding, so with an improvised windshield system and using myself as a windshield, I tried to dampen the gusts - fortunately successfully.

I tried to use medium shutter speeds for exposures, although the comet's slow self-movement could withstand longer exposure times, unfortunately due to the moon's light I couldn't. The comet has a 5' coma and 8' long dust tail (this is difficult to determine precisely due to the Moon). The comet's coma and tail are separable and very spectacular. The distinctive green color is due to the two-atom carbon molecules.

The dominant object in the lower left corner of the photo is the Double Cluster. The open clusters NGC 869 and NGC 884 are known as super bright star clusters of about 300-350 stars and about 5,000 solar masses each. Because they are made up of relatively few stars, so few stars are super-large. The clusters are approaching towards us at 38 km/s, but of course there is no cause for concern as they are 7600 light-years from us. The distance between the clusters is approximately 100 light-years.

Date: 01 Feb 2020 19:12-20:57 UT
Location: Tápióbicske, Pest, Hungary
Total exposure time: 57 minutes
Camera: Canon EOS 1300D (modified)
Telescope: Sky-Watcher Esprit 80/400 mm apochromatic refractor
Mount: Sky-Watcher EQ6-R Pro GoTo
Focal ratio, length: f/5, 400 mm
19 x 180 sec light, ISO 1600
Processing: Astro Pixel Processor, PixInsight, Adobe Lightroom, Adobe Photoshop
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