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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