Nightscapes & Deep Sky Colors

Astrophotography Brian A. Morganti


Comet  Lovejoy C/2014 Q2

December 2014 - January 2015


By the end of January 2015 the comet was beginning to fade and the increasing light from a young moon would be making photography more and more of a challenge.  My last opportunity came between stormy and cloudy nights on January 22nd.  This would be my last chance to image of this comet, so I decided to head to a darker sky location in northern Pennsylvania...World's End State Park in Sullivan County (image below).  Unfortunately, the Bortle 3 sky was occasionally hindered  by both mid and high-level clouds.  Worse, the young crescent moon was still fairly high and reflecting an awful lot of light off the freshly fallen snow pack...certainly not the ideal conditions for night sky photography.  That being said,  I was able to fire off a series of images during a brief break in the cloud cover, the results of which are shown below. 

January 22, 2015 7:00 - 8:00pm

Comet Lovejoy C/2014 Q2

Magnitude +4.5   Canon T1i - 70-200mm f2.8 @ 200mm f3.2 - Tracked on AstroTrac TT320x   

Seven 2 minute exposures @ ISO 1600 - Temperature 18F

The image below was taken from an elevation of 2,000' at the High Knob Overlook in World's End State Park.  This area is solidly in the Bortle 3 (dark blue) sky darkness index and the elevation above the lower valleys offers a transparent view of the dark sky.  The view here is looking directly north, and the two light pillars (shown much brighter than what they actually appeared) are from "fracking" operations (drilling rigs) about 25-30 miles to my north in Bradford County, Pennsylvania.

By mid-January 2015 the comet had continued to brighten to magnitude +4.0 and was easily visible with the naked eye once adapted to the dark.  On this third imaging attempt I was able to bring out more details in the ion tail by using my fast f2.8 lens attached to my astro-modified DSLR.  It also helped that the comet was nearing the Zenith where there was less light pollution to wash out details. 

January 15, 2015 8:00pm

Comet Lovejoy C/2014 Q2

Magnitude +4.0    Canon T1i - 70-200mm f2.8 @ 200mm f2.8 - Tracked on AP900GTO   

Six 2 minute exposures @ ISO 1600

The comet had brightened considerably when the below image was taken on January 9th, and for the first time I was able to find it with the naked eye.!  However I was still not able find any hint of a tail with my small telescope.  I increased my individual exposure times from one minute each to three minutes and combined  five of these images for a total of 15 minutes of total exposure. 

January 9, 2015 9:00pm

Comet Lovejoy C/2014 Q2

Magnitude +4.5    TeleVue NP101is 810mm f8.1 T1i Unguided    Five 3 minute exposures @ ISO 1600




Comet Lovejoy C/2014 Q2 was beginning to brighten by late December when a clear and moonless night allowed for my first imaging attempt which is shown below.   At this time the comet could easily be seen as a green fuzzy tailless blob in a pair of 10x40 binoculars.  However, a very faint tail was revealed when combining and stacking the images taken through my 4" APO refractor.

December 26, 2014 11:45pm

Comet Lovejoy C/2014 Q2

Magnitude +5.7    TeleVue NP101is 810mm f8.1 T1i Unguided    Six 1 minute exposures @ ISO 1600



Astrophotography  -  Nightscapes & Deep Sky Colors