2004 PASS OF "COMET C/2001 Q4 (NEAT)"

 Tail of C/2001 Q4
 One frame from an animation of a portion of the tail (ion tail strands & diffuse dust tail) of this comet made May 14, 2004.

A web page dedicated to the May 14, 2004 observations with my 14-inch Celestron (prime focus, f/1.86), including the 5-frame animation, is at link

Another set of observations were made with a wide-angle camera lens a week later, from which a 17-frame animation was constructed. This web page is at link


This picture was taken when Comet Ikeya-Zhang was only 6.5 degrees above the horizon, on the evening of April 2, 2002.

Two tails are evident, one narrow and straight, the other wide and curved to the left. The straight tail can be seen enbedded within the wide tail just above the head.  The tail appears to be at least 5 degrees long.  On the right is the Andromeda Galaxy (M31).  The image is 8.9 degrees wide by 6.3 degrees tall; north is up.  Cloud layers can be seen tilted (lower-left to upper-right). Faintest stars are magnitude 11. [Average of ten 20-second exposures; 70 mm, f/4 Nikon camera lens; SBIG ST-8E CCD, uncooled, binned 2x, observing site 3400-foot ASL in mountains north of Santa Barbara, CA.]

Wide-angle picture at dusk showing motion of ground while "tracking" the star field, including Comet Ikeya-Zhang, on March 24, 2002.  [Nikon Coolpix 990, average of 3 images, 8-second exposure with dark frame subtraction; San Marcos Pass, 2200 feet ASL, north of Santa Barbara, CA].

2001 LINEAR (C/2000 WM1)

Sequence of 8 images, taken 1 minute apart, showing Comet LINEAR's motion against a background of stars. The width of this image is 17.4 'arc (about half the moon's maximum size).  The comet is moving at the rate of 9.7 "arc per minute.  It was 0.331 astronomical units from Earth at the time these photos were taken, November 27, 9:00 PM PST.  The "tail" was only partially developed because the comet had not yet come close to the sun; it is barely visible and extends to the left in the 10 o'clock direction.  The faintest stars are magnitude 15.2.  Note the 14.8 magnitude spiral galaxy near the top of the image area, left of center (IC1755). The comet appears larger than the stars due to a "coma" of surrounding gas and dust that is reflecting sunlight. The solid nucleus is much smaller. [Meade LX200 10-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope, Meade 3x focal reducer/field flattener, Meade 416XTE CCD imager, exposure time of 30 seconds; 2001 November 28, 5:00 UT; Santa Barbara residence]


Comet 1956h.
Tracking stars from old home near Ann Arbor, Michigan.

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This site opened:  August 30, 1998.  Last Update:  May 23, 2004