Comet C2004/Q2 (Machholz)


This photo was taken on the 10th of April 2005 as the comet passed through the constellation Draco.  The bright star nearby is l draconis.  This comet was first spotted by Douglas Machcholz, an amateur astronomer in California with several other comets bearing his name, in August 2004.  Over the winter of 2004/5, the comet brightened considerably as it moved north from Taurus to Ursa minor, although it never became the spectacular naked eye object that Hale-Bopp was a few years ago.  Nevertheless, it was easily seen with binoculars, without much elongation - but just an ellipsoid fuzzball in the sky.  At the time when this photo was taken, C2004/Q2 was probably about magnitude 8.  I have no record of the details of this photo and absolutely no recollection of the settings when I took it, except that I was unable to demonstrate the coma properly although I have seen fantastic pinsharp photos by other amateurs demonstrating a double tail and the core.  The surrounding stars are a peculiar shape because of rotation and problems stacking the image (Envisage).  Only a single run of stacks was carried out which is why the duration extended long enough for rotation to occur.  I know this because I hadn't yet acquired MaximDL at that stage.  After histogram stretching, I selected out the stars and tried to correct slightly the distortion of the star shapes using the object skew function in Paint Shop Pro 7.

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