October 16-17, 2010 Comet 103/P Hartley 2 Observation Report
by James Kevin Ty & Andrew Ian Chan

Last October 16,
a  heavy downpour late afternoon led to a spectacularly transparent sky,  ALPers James Kevin Ty and Andrew Ian Chan went back to PAGASA Observatory in UP Diliman after an unsuccessful try last October 15 to try to recover Comet Hartley 2 under sub-urban condition. They quickly pounced on this rare opportunity, especially since they know that Typhoon Megi will surely close all chances of a good observation beginning tomorrow night...

Conditions that night was far better than what they had the other day. Transparency was quite good and amid passing clouds, they could see lots of stars through the cloud breaks that they decided to setup their imaging equipment to try to image it. James brought along a portable setup in Canon 500D DSLR with Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 IS Lens on Kenko Sky Memo-R mount while Andrew brought along his Canon 500D DSLR on his trusty Skywatcher 80ED refractor on Vixen GP mount with Sky Sensor 2000 system.

ALPer Andrew Ian Chan beside his Skywatcher 80ED refractor on Vixen GP mount with Sky Sensor 2000 system.

ALPer James Kevin Ty with ultra-portable Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 IS L lens on Kenko Sky Memo-R mount.

Due to variable factors (moon, city glow, etc.) affecting their ability to detect fainter objects, the comet was neither visible to the naked eye nor through binoculars. So once again, they were forced to rely solely on the powerful sensors of their cameras accompanied by a green laser and armed with the calculated prediction of the comet's location (the same technique they employed in their pursuit of Comet McNaught)  to successfully recover the comet.

After double checking the comet position through James' StarMap Pro software in Iphone 3G, they aimed their scope and lens to the predicted position and they finally got to recover the elusive comet :) LOL

Comet 103/P Hartley 2 by James Kevin Ty

Composite Image of Comet 103/P Hartley 2 by James Kevin Ty

Some slight haze were present during the session thus they weren't able to expose longer exposure to get better image of the comet. The comet was a bit dim through 1-2 minute exposure as they had to contend with fighting the Moonlight glow as the Moon was still present in the western sky. Nevertheless, after 2 days of numerous mosquito bites, they finally got to image the comet! As James told Andrew, on their first night, he was bitten by mosquitos more than 46 times on the first try :) LOL But it was still worth the itch :) LOL

In addition, ALPer Andrew  was able to photograph the Pleiades Star Cluster and the Great Orion Nebula for the 1st time with his new setup!  He was so happy with the initial results that he is also comtemplating in joining the October 30 stargazing session under the dark skies of Caliraya, Laguna to get even better DSO images as well as the comet.

Comet 103/P Hartley 2 by Andrew Ian Chan

Waxing Gibbous Moon by James Kevin Ty

M42 Great Orion Nebula by Andrew Ian Chan

M45 Pleiades star cluster  by Andrew Ian Chan

At around 2:30am, with clouds starting to roll in to cover the entire sky, they had a group shot taken before packing up their stuffs with a happy heart that they were able to recover Comet 103/P Hartley 2!


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