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Schmahl Images of Comet Hale-Bopp

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Observer: Dave Schmahl
Location: Mount Laguna Observatory, San Diego, California
Date: March 24, 1997 01:15-02:15 UT

First image taken with a 50mm lens at f2.8, 1000 Kodak Gold, 20 sec exposure, unguided. The Moon was at about 75% of maximum eclipse. The comet's tail showed more and more detail as the sky became darker.

Middle images taken with a 50mm lens at f2.8, 1000 Kodak Gold, 20 sec exposure, unguided. It was an amazing night on Mount Laguna! We arrived at the parking lot at 6:30P M to find the area fogged in. After waiting about half an hour, the clouds dropped about 500 feet to leave the skys clear. Looking towards the comet from the Visitor's Dome, behind me was the full moon already in partial eclipse with Mars near opposition shining brightly above it. On the day of closest approach to the Earth, the comet was just one tail length to the right (from the camera's point of view) of The Andromeda Galaxy. The third zoomed frame shows the comet pointing directly at the center of the Andromeda galaxy . Only the center of the galaxy is visible in these frames.

Final image taken with a 300mm lens at f5.6, 1000 Kodak Gold, 2.5 min exposure, pippybacked on a motor guided C80 refractor. The eclipse was nearly at maximum. About 90% of the full moon was in the Earth' s shadow. Polar alignment of my telescope's mount was tricky. In 2.5 minutes the alignment error showed up as the stars have already begun to trail. Still, it's not bad for my second attempt at a motor guided exposure.

Dave Schmahl
dschmahl@cts.com


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