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Panstarrs

FishTXFishTX Super ModeratorPosts: 9,006 Senior Member
O.K. gurus. What focal length/s should I be thinking about? Around the 12th and 13th of March, it should be near the waxing, crescent moon. The Photographer's Ephemeris tells me the moon will set at 277 and 282 degrees (for my latitude), so I'm thinking about foregrounds and where to set up the camera.

I'll be pissed if the weather is cloudy. I took a trip with a friend to get away from the city lights to see Halley's comet. It was cloudy. Back in the city it was freaking clear. I'll be dead or 100y.o. in 2061. If I'm alive I might not give a rat's behind by then.
"We have to find someone who can not only fly this plane, but who didn't have fish for dinner."

Crooow:This music would work better with women in bikinis shaking all over the place. I guess that's true of any music really.
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Replies

  • FishTXFishTX Super Moderator Posts: 9,006 Senior Member
    http://waitingforison.wordpress.com/comet-panstarrs/

    Scroll down for computer generated images for relative position of the comet, moon and Jupiter. Also the direction of the tail, but actual length may not be similar to computer images.
    "We have to find someone who can not only fly this plane, but who didn't have fish for dinner."

    Crooow:This music would work better with women in bikinis shaking all over the place. I guess that's true of any music really.
  • yataheyyatahey Senior Member Posts: 5,605 Senior Member
    Looks like the 12th will be a good night to get the moon and the comet in the same frame. As far as focal length, the biggest you've got and some wider lengths to include foreground silhouettes would be nice.
    "When the goin gets weird, the weird turn pro." Hunter S. Thompson
  • FishTXFishTX Super Moderator Posts: 9,006 Senior Member
    Bigger might not be better if a long exposure is needed because of earth rotation. I'm guessing 28mm to 50mm. Scott has experience with this.

    I need a foreground with no light pollution. Preferably where I won't have car traffic. During the last meteor shower I had a visitor who thought my truck might be broke down. I told them I was watching the meteor shower and they looked at me like I was from Mars.
    "We have to find someone who can not only fly this plane, but who didn't have fish for dinner."

    Crooow:This music would work better with women in bikinis shaking all over the place. I guess that's true of any music really.
  • Scott ButnerScott Butner Senior Member Posts: 3,918 Senior Member
    depending on how things pan out, the tail may stretch 20-30 degrees up from the horizon. I'll be shooting with my 24-70mm f/2.8 for the most part, I think. depends on the foreground. A long lens will possibly show the comet in larger "detail" but there will BE no details really to speak of, so what will happen instead is that you'll loose the foreground context. But hell, it's easy to make that decision at the time of the shoot, I will be wherever I go with lenses from 10.5mm to 500mm, so gonna cover all my bases.

    that said, I almost guarantee you, the 24-70, mostly at the 24-35mm range, will be the main show. I want to capture as much tailing of the comet as I can.

    remember that the comet will be most visible shortly after sunset. So light pollution will be less of an issue than for meteors. Chances are there will be residual dusk that is brighter than a lot of ground sources. But a skyline or framing (trees? etc) device will make a difference.

    BTW, i've been going to Flickr daily and searching for PANSTARRS. Only a few images so far, but the nice thing is that you can kinda scout for what to expect, in terms of exposures, focal lengths, etc.

    right now it's only visible in the southern hemisphere and nowhere near as cool as it should look in mid-march, but the best pic I've seen so far was shot on a canon 6D, f/2.8, 135mm, 10 seconds.


    Photo by Luis Argerich, Buenos Aires, Argentina
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/lrargerich/8471764494/

    my guess is that by March 12, a shot around 15 sec, f/2.8, 2200 ISO should give you a good balance between seeing some background stars, good bit of tail, and the comet head.
  • yataheyyatahey Senior Member Posts: 5,605 Senior Member
    depending on how things pan out, the tail may stretch 20-30 degrees up from the horizon. I'll be shooting with my 24-70mm f/2.8 for the most part, I think. depends on the foreground. A long lens will possibly show the comet in larger "detail" but there will BE no details really to speak of, so what will happen instead is that you'll loose the foreground context. But hell, it's easy to make that decision at the time of the shoot, I will be wherever I go with lenses from 10.5mm to 500mm, so gonna cover all my bases.

    that said, I almost guarantee you, the 24-70, mostly at the 24-35mm range, will be the main show. I want to capture as much tailing of the comet as I can.

    remember that the comet will be most visible shortly after sunset. So light pollution will be less of an issue than for meteors. Chances are there will be residual dusk that is brighter than a lot of ground sources. But a skyline or framing (trees? etc) device will make a difference.

    BTW, i've been going to Flickr daily and searching for PANSTARRS. Only a few images so far, but the nice thing is that you can kinda scout for what to expect, in terms of exposures, focal lengths, etc.

    right now it's only visible in the southern hemisphere and nowhere near as cool as it should look in mid-march, but the best pic I've seen so far was shot on a canon 6D, f/2.8, 135mm, 10 seconds.


    Photo by Luis Argerich, Buenos Aires, Argentina
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/lrargerich/8471764494/

    my guess is that by March 12, a shot around 15 sec, f/2.8, 2200 ISO should give you a good balance between seeing some background stars, good bit of tail, and the comet head.
    Can't argue with a good bit of tail and the head.
    "When the goin gets weird, the weird turn pro." Hunter S. Thompson
  • JulietJuliet Posts: 49,774 Senior Member
    In the March 13 chart I see Uranus
  • Scott ButnerScott Butner Senior Member Posts: 3,918 Senior Member
    yatahey wrote: »
    Can't argue with a good bit of tail and the head.

    slow pitch right over home plate.
  • Scott ButnerScott Butner Senior Member Posts: 3,918 Senior Member
    monkeydoes wrote: »
    In the March 13 chart I see Uranus

    I ain't takin' no pictures of Uranus.
  • ouzelproouzelpro Senior Member Posts: 5,361 Senior Member
    This is how Alabamans say **** Stars.
  • FishTXFishTX Super Moderator Posts: 9,006 Senior Member
    I don't have the high ISO cameras and fast lenses (except for some film lenses) of you rich guys. So, I'm stuck with a slow lens to shoot in the wide angle range. So I just made a test tonight.

    ISO 200, F4 (wide is 3.5) at 25" 19mm (30mm f.o.v.) Also I can't go above 30" unless I go to bulb.
    star-test_zps0bb10362.jpg

    100% crop. Does anybody know why the stars have halos on one side? Dirty lens, low quality lens, or function of aperture?
    starcrop_zps4a028b2b.jpg
    "We have to find someone who can not only fly this plane, but who didn't have fish for dinner."

    Crooow:This music would work better with women in bikinis shaking all over the place. I guess that's true of any music really.
  • yataheyyatahey Senior Member Posts: 5,605 Senior Member
    I may be wrong but I think the halo is the result of earth's rotation. The un-cropped pic looks pretty good.
    "When the goin gets weird, the weird turn pro." Hunter S. Thompson
  • FishTXFishTX Super Moderator Posts: 9,006 Senior Member
    I thought about that, but it is a 25 second exposure at an effective field of view of 30mm (135 format or full frame). Is 25 seconds long? I know it would be if I had a longer focal length, but at the f.o.v. of a 30mm lens on a 35mm camera, I'd think the motion blur would be less obvious. Same as being able to handhold a camera with a shorter focal length lens at slower shutter speed. The camera is still moving around, but the field of view on a wider lens masks most of the motion blur.
    "We have to find someone who can not only fly this plane, but who didn't have fish for dinner."

    Crooow:This music would work better with women in bikinis shaking all over the place. I guess that's true of any music really.
  • FishTXFishTX Super Moderator Posts: 9,006 Senior Member
    I wish they made a digital slr with manual controls (dials etc.) like older film cameras. Fiddling with buttons to change modes, then adjusting dials is a pain. When you want to make a bunch of photos in a short period of time and vary shutter speed and aperture and ISO, the camera should be designed so you can do it almost without thought. Even more of a pain when you are working in the dark.
    "We have to find someone who can not only fly this plane, but who didn't have fish for dinner."

    Crooow:This music would work better with women in bikinis shaking all over the place. I guess that's true of any music really.
  • Scott ButnerScott Butner Senior Member Posts: 3,918 Senior Member
    I can do that with my nikon D7000? not sure what you're working with.

    f/stops are controlled by a rear thumb wheel; shutter with the front. Exposure correction (deviation from the "correct" exposure) adjustable with the combination of one button and one of the aforementioned thumb wheels. ISO adjustable with another button/thumbwheel combo.

    I change each of them dozens if not hundreds of times in a night (especially the exposure comp dial) without thinking twice about it when shooting concerts. I had a sh*tload of manual film cameras in my day, and I don't find it any less intuitive or distracting than any of them. Better, in fact, because unlike some of my more primitive film cameras (my old Pentax SP's for instance) I see both shutter and f/stop displayed in the viewfinder, so I don't have to look away from the finder to make sure I turned the knobs the right number of increments.
  • Scott ButnerScott Butner Senior Member Posts: 3,918 Senior Member
    FishTX wrote: »
    I thought about that, but it is a 25 second exposure at an effective field of view of 30mm (135 format or full frame). Is 25 seconds long? I know it would be if I had a longer focal length, but at the f.o.v. of a 30mm lens on a 35mm camera, I'd think the motion blur would be less obvious. Same as being able to handhold a camera with a shorter focal length lens at slower shutter speed. The camera is still moving around, but the field of view on a wider lens masks most of the motion blur.

    1) don't shoot at 200 ISO. I'm sure you can reach at least 800 right? shooting at 200 for star photos simply will not yield good results in almost any situation. Whether film or digital.

    2) 25 sec at 30mm is probably a bit too long. Rule of thumb is up to about 30 sec is fine for very wide lenses (12-18 mm) For a 35-50mm, maybe 8 sec. For anything longer than that, it's gotta be real short. For a 135, you'll get some noticeable movement even at 2-4 sec. If you see the star at all.
  • yataheyyatahey Senior Member Posts: 5,605 Senior Member
    I'm going to take my laptop with me Mar 12th and shoot tethered so I can see the images better. Thanks for the tips Scott.
    "When the goin gets weird, the weird turn pro." Hunter S. Thompson
  • FishTXFishTX Super Moderator Posts: 9,006 Senior Member
    I was working with the canon 10d. Maybe I should sell one camera and stick with the other. I get confused over which dial does which job in each shooting mode with more than one camera.

    I don't have a viewfinder display for my Olympus. Quick release on the Manfrotto wasn't locked tight enough. Cameras are not made to fall six feet without consequences. With the 10d on the tripod, pointed up I couldn't use the viewfinder display. The olympus can display settings on the lcd on back, but with the 10d, if you can't use the viewfinder display, you are stuck with the LED display on top. I wish the back lighting function on that display would stay on until you manually turn if off.
    "We have to find someone who can not only fly this plane, but who didn't have fish for dinner."

    Crooow:This music would work better with women in bikinis shaking all over the place. I guess that's true of any music really.
  • Scott ButnerScott Butner Senior Member Posts: 3,918 Senior Member
    a key ingredient in my camera bag is a pair of flashlights. and another in my truck. I do a lot of landscapes at night, and my eyes suck. So I always bring a flashlight and a backup.

    and yeah, there's an advantage to having one camera body, and getting to know it intimately. When I was a kid, I used to practce setting my nikkormat in the dark, including changing lenses; I knew what each one was at wide open, so could count down the stops to set the exposure blindfolded.

    Kinda ridiculous extreme, but I was 19. What else do you expect. lol
  • Scott ButnerScott Butner Senior Member Posts: 3,918 Senior Member
    yatahey wrote: »
    I'm going to take my laptop with me Mar 12th and shoot tethered so I can see the images better. Thanks for the tips Scott.


    probably the best tip is don't be too focused on the 12th. That's expected to be the prime, but in reality, you could get great shots anytime between the 8th and the 19th or so, nobody knows for sure. The 12th is a good guess, but depends on how the tail develops, what your local light is like, etc. One reason I say not to shoot at 200 iso is that you'll get the bright stars, but not the fainter ones. Aside from providing a richer more colorful star field, the tail (which is the thing that separates a comet from just another bright spot in the sky) will be MUCH fainter than the head, and so you'll need to do longer exposures at higher ISO to pick it up.

    BTW, f/4, while not optimal, is not unworkable. My ultra-wide zoom (12-24) is only an f/4 and I still use it. But am saving for a f/2.8. ;-)
  • FishTXFishTX Super Moderator Posts: 9,006 Senior Member
    I'm sure you can reach at least 800 right?
    Yes, but that is pushing it. Older cameras with 2x and 1.6x crop sensors. Above 400 gets noisy. I'll try again tomorrow night with 400 and 800 and see I can live with the noise.
    "We have to find someone who can not only fly this plane, but who didn't have fish for dinner."

    Crooow:This music would work better with women in bikinis shaking all over the place. I guess that's true of any music really.
  • Scott ButnerScott Butner Senior Member Posts: 3,918 Senior Member
    Noise is a fact of life with star photography, at least using DSLR's in normal mode (not talking about some of the advanced techniques with multiple stacking and tracking devices). You can minimize it some in post processing. The trade off is that you get far richer star fields, and you might pick up details in the comet that the naked eye DIDN'T see.
  • FishTXFishTX Super Moderator Posts: 9,006 Senior Member
    I was using a small flash light I could hold in my mouth. On tomorrow night's tests, I'll remember the head lamp. Another thing that sucks is my contacts don't work well in dim light. I had a dollar store pair of reading glasses on.
    "We have to find someone who can not only fly this plane, but who didn't have fish for dinner."

    Crooow:This music would work better with women in bikinis shaking all over the place. I guess that's true of any music really.
  • Scott ButnerScott Butner Senior Member Posts: 3,918 Senior Member
    today's amateur PANSTARRS image -- G. Abramson of Argentina, 1 sec f/2 @ 3200 ISO, 100mm fl.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/8516691031/

    note that this is a much shorter exposure than the one from three days ago, yet still shows some of the comet's tail. the problem is that the comet tail will get larger as it approaches the sun, but that also means that it will rise in the morning sky CLOSER to the sun, so long exposures may be drowned out by dawn.

    When it comes out the other side of the sun, around March 8, we'll ahve the same issue, btu each night it will be a little further behind the sun and hence will have a darker background. this may allow for better shots of the tail.
  • FishTXFishTX Super Moderator Posts: 9,006 Senior Member
    probably the best tip is don't be too focused on the 12th. That's expected to be the prime, but in reality, you could get great shots anytime between the 8th and the 19th or so, nobody knows for sure.
    From what I've read, the waxing moon will be near the comet around the 12th and 13th. Maybe multiple exposure for moon and comet then combine the best exposures of each into the final product.

    I thought about turning a graduated nd filter on its side or some other angle to match the moon's and exposure with the comet.
    "We have to find someone who can not only fly this plane, but who didn't have fish for dinner."

    Crooow:This music would work better with women in bikinis shaking all over the place. I guess that's true of any music really.
  • Scott ButnerScott Butner Senior Member Posts: 3,918 Senior Member
    FishTX wrote: »
    I was using a small flash light I could hold in my mouth. On tomorrow night's tests, I'll remember the head lamp. Another thing that sucks is my contacts don't work well in dim light. I had a dollar store pair of reading glasses on.


    i suffer from this issue as well. it's called middle age.

    if the camera's on the tripod, why flashlight in the mouth? setting dials is a one hand operation on most cameras.
  • Scott ButnerScott Butner Senior Member Posts: 3,918 Senior Member
    FishTX wrote: »
    From what I've read, the waxing moon will be near the comet around the 12th and 13th. Maybe multiple exposure for moon and comet then combine the best exposures of each into the final product.

    I thought about turning a graduated nd filter on its side or some other angle to match the moon's and exposure with the comet.


    according to my moon calculator app, new moon is on the 11th, on the 12th and 13th you'll have just the tiniest sliver of a moon visible, should be well matched to the comet.

    each night beyond that, the moon will compete more and more with the comet.
  • Scott ButnerScott Butner Senior Member Posts: 3,918 Senior Member
    if we're lucky, we'll get views like this one of Comet McNaught (2006) by John **** of New Zealand. Excellent image.

    2310073598_15bbcda4d9.jpg
    Comet McNaught Jan. 22, 2007 by John **** Photography, on Flickr
  • FishTXFishTX Super Moderator Posts: 9,006 Senior Member
    At least it isn't old age. But it might not be too bad. Dad is turning 79 in four days and does pretty well.
    if the camera's on the tripod, why flashlight in the mouth? setting dials is a one hand operation on most cameras.
    Habit I guess and it was a key chain light, so easy to hold between the teeth.
    "We have to find someone who can not only fly this plane, but who didn't have fish for dinner."

    Crooow:This music would work better with women in bikinis shaking all over the place. I guess that's true of any music really.
  • FishTXFishTX Super Moderator Posts: 9,006 Senior Member
    each night beyond that, the moon will compete more and more with the comet.
    As the moon gets fuller, won't their relative positions grow farther apart making it easier to crop out the moon if you can't find a way to balance exposures?
    I don't know how much the bearing of the comet will change. Down here, the bearing to the setting moon will change over five degrees between the 12th and 13th.
    "We have to find someone who can not only fly this plane, but who didn't have fish for dinner."

    Crooow:This music would work better with women in bikinis shaking all over the place. I guess that's true of any music really.
  • Scott ButnerScott Butner Senior Member Posts: 3,918 Senior Member
    they WILL get further away, but by much more than about 5 days into a new moon, long enough exposures to show the comet well, will also result in the sky being blue and hard to distinguish from daylight. The moon gets bright very fast and regardless of its position in the sky, can overwhelm all but the brightest stars by about half moon.

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