Finding Comet C/2014 Q1 (Panstarrs)

I like to look for bright comets with my DSLR mounted on a tripod. It’s a simple approach and it’s surprisingly easy.

Comet C/2014 Q1 (Panstarrs) is currently setting low in our Western sky during twilight  – but it is rising higher each night. Finding it tonight was surprisingly easy (estimated magnitude approx +4 to +5), even with the bright sky but despite my modest attempt using only an f/1.4, 50mm lens, I was astonished to find that this object has two tails! *

2015-07-17 Comet C2014 Q1 Panstarrs
2015-07-17 Comet C2014 Q1 Panstarrs (centre). A hint of tails at the 1 o’clock and three o’clock positions.
2015-07-17 Comet C2014 Q1 Panstarrs Inverted
2015-07-17 Comet C2014 Q1 Panstarrs (Centre), inverted. Definitely two tails!
2015-07-17 Comet C2014 Q1 Panstarrs, Jupiter, Venus &Plane
2015-07-17 Comet C2014 Q1 Panstarrs, Jupiter, Regulus, Venus &Plane. The comet is above the left hand side of the tree.
2015-07-17 Jupiter Venus Moon
2015-07-17 Jupiter, Venus and the crescent one day (30 hours) old Moon. The comet was almost exactly halfway between Jupiter and the Moon but was not visible yet, due to early twilight.

* I wondered if the second tail at the 3 o’clock position was a figment of my imagination, so I searched for verification. I found out to my utter amazement that Kevin Parker from Queensland had published this fabulous image – it has multiple tails!

I will be trying again over the next few days with higher power lenses and through my telescope when the object rises above the twilight zone.

Comet C/2014 Q1 (Panstarrs) was 1.185 AU from Earth.


All images © R.Powell


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