Nightscapes & Deep Sky Colors

Astrophotography © Brian A. Morganti


Comet C/2009 P1 Garradd

Globular Cluster M92







Comet C/2009 P1 Garradd discovered by Australian amateur astronomer Gordon Garradd has been visible since October 2011 through  binoculars and small telescopes as a high evening object glowing at  magnitude 7.   Starting in late January Garradd shifted to the northeastern sky as a pre dawn object.  During the early morning hours of February 3rd, 2012 Comet Garradd came within one degree of Globular Cluster M92 high in the northeastern sky as shown in the images above.

Comets that pass relatively close to the sun typically develop two tails – one made of dust carried away by the pressure of sunlight along the comet’s orbit and an ion tail of gases that fluoresce when they’re excited by the ultraviolet energy in sunlight. The dust is released into space as the heat of the sun vaporizes cometary ices.  Garradd will peak in brightness from October 2011 to March 2012 at around magnitude 6, so it could be visible with the naked eye from moderately dark sky locations. Closest approach to Earth will be March 5th,  2012 when Comet Garradd will be 117.7 million miles away. 

M92 contains about 330,000 stars and is located  about 26,000 light years from Earth...much farther that Comet Garradd which is only about 142 million miles at the time this image was taken.


  • Date & Location:  February 3, 2012  - Bernville, PA

  • Weather:  Calm Winds,  start 31F - End 27F

  • Sky Conditions:  Clear with  average transparency.

  • SQM-L: Average 20.55

  • Optics:  TeleVue NP101is Refractor w/0.8x focal reducer @432mm @ f4.3

  • Filter:  Astronomic  EOS clip-in CLS-CCD (Light Pollution Suppression)

  • Mount:  AstroPhysics AP900GTO

  • Guiding:  Guided Orion SSAG

  • Camera:  Canon T1i (500D) Hap Griffin Modified - Baader UV/IR

  • Exposure:  13 x 3 min / 2 x 5 min (49 minutes total)

  • Calibration Frames:  9 Darks & 9 Bias frames

  • Processing:  Images Plus 3.82b, Photoshop CS4, NIK, Gradient TermX

  • Comments:   Image length was kept relatively short and the total amount of exposures was kept to a minimum in order to keep the coma as compact as possible.  Moonset was at 3:30 am...images were captured between 4:15 and 5:30 am. 


Astrophotography  -  Nightscapes & Deep Sky Colors