On 12 Jan. 2015, soon after the live, online observing session scheduled to show it to the world, at Virtual Telescope we imaged comet C/2014 Q2 Lovejoy, under very good sky conditions.
The comet showed to be amazing, so we decided to cover its tail as much as possible. Because of the long focal length of our telescopes, providing an exceptional resolution (almost all the images of this you see around are wide field of view, showing the full tail, but with low resolution, so our images are somewhat unique), we had to do a mosaic to cover a much larger field than the standard one. After our similar, previous attempt, we wanted to do an even larger coverage, this time going with a three-panes mosaic.
The image above comes from the average of six, 120-seconds unfiltered exposures, remotely collected with the PlaneWave 17″+Paramount ME+SBIG STL-6303E robotic unit part of the Virtual Telescope Project. The telescope tracked at the apparent rate of the comet. As we said, three adjacent portions of the sky were imaged, later carefully superimposed, to cover a much larger field of view.
The tail is showing in a very magnificent way. Thanks to the mosaic technique, our image cover a good field, still providing an excellent resolution of the many complex features making this comet a joy to see. We provide also a negative palette, making easier to see the complex pattern of the tail.
We also made a movie, using 130, 60-minutes exposure, covering 2.5 hours. To see it click on the image below (17 MB video).
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