Comet Machholz 2004Q2: January - February 2005
Comet Machholz was a nice little comet visible in the evening sky in late 2004, early 2005. Because of the cold weather, my chances to photograph the comet were limited. I planned on photographing the comet when it passed within two degrees of the Pleiades star cluster on January 7th. Unfortunately, the weather in New Hampshire for two days before and after that date was miserable and no opportunity to photograph this grouping was possible. However, on the 10th of January, conditions cleared and I braved 20 degree temperatures as well as some gusting wind to attempt to capture the comet on film. This would also be the first time that I was able to use my new digital SLR (Nikon D70) on a comet. Worried that I would not get it right, I also shot film. These four images are the result of that session.
Comet Machholz and the Pleiades star cluster. Five-minute exposure on Fuji 800 film using a 135mm F2.8 lens
Comet Machholz closeup. Eight-minute exposure on Fuji 800 film using a 200mm F2.8 lens
Comet Machholz closeup. Nikon D70 set at ISO 800 using a 135mm F2.8 lens. Stack of three five-minute exposures.
Comet Machholz closeup showing two jets in the ion tail. Nikon D70 set at ISO 800 using a 400mm F5.6lens. Stack of six five-minute exposures.
Fortunately, the comet continued to perform over the next month. On the 1st of February, I braved the cold again and got a few shots of the comet with the double cluster.
Comet Machholz along with the double cluster in Perseus. Nikon D70 set at ISO 800 using a 135mm F2.8 lens. Stack of two five-minute exposures
Comet Machholz closeup showing the ion tail and a faint dust fan. Nikon D70 set at ISO 800 using a 400mm F5.6lens. Stack of six five-minute exposures.
Weather in NH seemed to cooperate for once and I was able to get out again on the 5th of February. The comet displayed a much brighter ion tail and dust fan on that evening.
The comet in Cassiopea with the double cluster and IC's 1805 and 1848. 16-minute exposure using a 135mm F2.8 lens and Kodak LE 400 film.
The comet in Cassiopea. Nikon D70 set at ISO 800 using a 135mm F2.8 lens. One five-minute exposure.
Comet Machholz closeup showing the ion tail and dust fan. Nikon D70 set at ISO 800 using a 400mm F5.6lens. Stack of six five-minute exposures.
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