Friday, March 22, 2013

PanSTARRS comet and Aurora Borealis

I saw a picture of the comet PanSTARRS (C/2011 L4) taken in Turku Finland at March 16th 2013 and decided that to go out and search it myself the next day. So Sunday the 17th I went to Kuuvuori (Moon mountain in english) in Turku with some other stargazers who were there yesterday. I was at the spot at 18:50 and started to set up my equipment.

At about 19:50 we found it on my dobson. Hmm... I better check the time because this seems quite late. 19:52 says the EXIF timestamp of my first photo of it. Maybe it was a bit earlier... Anyways here it is.

Whoa! Or not much to see... Depends on how much you respect the astronomy itself. That photo is actually not the first. All the photos through my dobson were more or less blurred. This was taken with 75-300mm zoom lens at max zoom. Maybe I should have shot a video through the dobson, like I do with planets.

Couple minutes after really seeing the comet something happened. I saw "clouds" on recently clear sky, or at least I thought I did. The "clouds" turned green and the show started. All the previous Aurora Borealis I've seen had been faint and required a bit of imagination to see. This one did not. The sky was flashing green and purple so fast my camera couldn't catch it. I saw arches, rays, something that reminded me of a scifi movie "warp speed".

Warp speed
For a while northern lights filled the whole sky. I decided to enjoy the view rather than fiddle with my camera to get better pictures. I got one with both the comet and Aurora in view. Comet is quite small in the photo so I marked it.

I had my camera on an equatorial mount so the ground is tilted. Don't mind that.

I won't lie when I say that half an hour was probably the best show I've ever seen.