A spate of bad weather followed by the bright moon kept me from imaging the comet until this week. A little late to the game and a fading comet. Still, I did get an image.
The comet is currently high in the evening sky, an easy target. An now that the bright Moon has left the evening sky this week and next represent a last chance to see the comet before it truly begins to fade.
Comet ZTF has faded below 6th magnitude according to recent estimates, too faint for the unaided eye, but still spottable in binoculars and fairly easy to catch in a small telescope. The comet remain well placed to spot for some time to come but will slowly fade, dropping to about 8th magnitude by the end of the month.
Canon 6D with a TeleVue 76mm scope riding on an ZWO AM5 mount. 30 x 180s images processed in DSS. A version processed to remove stars does show a trace of the ion tail.
This has been a bit of a design challence for me… Just how small, how simple, can I make a focuser and yet still provide excellent usability. My latest Helix 1-14 design is my best yet.
As my 3D printer design skills improve I applied lessons learned and the unique capabilities of an FDM printer to the problem of a focuser. After a bit of a journey I have arrived at a design I can consider finished. Is it the final design? I may tinker some more, but I am satified for the moment.
The design is based on a few ideas from here and there, products I have seen or used, internet postings from others faced with the same challenge. I am not one for just printing someone else’s design, I rarely do that, I want to do my own, and maybe make it better.
As I have observed lately, most of the small telescope mirrors available right now are out of China, most of those produced by one company, Guan Sheng Optical or GSO. If you want a small mirror, say a 6″ or 8″ mirror, there is not a lot of choice, the mirror makers in the US generally do not do anything smaller than 10″.
The GSO mirrors range from decent to pretty bad, with no way of knowing what you will get when you order, just luck of the draw.
At this point I know not to trust my sense of time or internal clock, I have traveled across far too many time zones. Entebbe to Portland required 27 hours of travel and crossed ten time zones. My body is simply not to be trusted.
The previous evening had consisted of little more than making it from the airport to my parent’s house, then directly to a long sought bed.
The clock reads nearly 7am.
How can this be? The time seems wrong and I have no confidence in the old LED alarm clock in the guest bedroom. Was it set properly? I fumble for the cell phone to double check the time. The phone confirms the seemingly inaccurate time.
Today the planet Neptune will pass through opposition, directly opposite the Sun in our sky. The planet will be well placed for observation all night long, rising at sunset, transiting at midnight, and setting at sunrise. If you are looking to observe Neptune, it is currently shining at magnitude 7.8 in in southern Pisces just south of the circlet.
As the outer planets Uranus and Neptune move so slowly across the sky, the timing of oppositions is driven by the Earth’s orbit and occur each year at nearly the same time. Neptune’s orbital period is 164.8 years, taking over a century and a half to circle the celestial globe once. As Neptune was discovered in 1846, it has completed a little over one orbit since discovery.