Comet Bradfield 2004F4: April 2004

In late March of 2004, it was announced that William Bradfield had discovered ANOTHER comet. Considering the use of telescopes such as LINEAR and NEAT, the discovery of comets by amateurs had become something of an anamoly. Bradfield was very close to the sun when discovered and perihilion had occurred at a distance of 0.17 AU. When it came out of the sun's glare, it was a low in the eastern sky just before dawn. Unfortunately, despite being about third magnitude with a long faint tail in late April, the comet did not last long as a visual object. The weather in NH was not very helpful in late April. On April 28th, I went to Lake Massabesic, east of Manchester, where I managed to locate the comet at about +4 with a faint tail of about 5-10 degrees in length. Using a tripod and 50mm lens with Kodak LE400 film, I managed to capture the comet peaking out of the clouds. As a bonus, the International Space Station was seen approaching the comet.

On the morning of the 30th, the sky cleared again and I managed to get my motor drive working for a few guided images of the comet. This 50mm F2 (2 minutes on Kodak Gold 400) shot shows the comet in Andromeda with a short dust tail.

This closeup of the comet using a 135mm F2.8 lens and a 4 minute exposure on Kodak Royal Gold 400 film shows how concentrated the coma was. Within a few weeks the comet had faded rapidly to +10 and was no longer a comet of interest.

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