Comet C2006/M4 (Swan)

 

This new comet (SWAN) was discovered in June by the Solar Wind Anisotropies instrument on board ESA's SOHO, sun-stationary observatory.  This photograph was taken (as usual for me, under sub-optimal viewing conditions,) on the night of the 1st of November 2006.  The temperature was 6.5C and falling when I started making the exposures - it was misty and the moon was gibbous, just beginning second quarter.  The picture is the accumulation of 3 stacks made by Envisage software as follows: (32x30seconds, 16x30, and 21x30) making a cumulative exposure time of about 34 minutes.  What may show poorly depending on the colour calibration of your monitor is the turquoise colour of the coma and the red of the tail - which has poor contrast in this picture because the haze in the air was causing red signal noise.  When this picture was taken, the comet was just east of the rhomboid in Hercules and it was in an awful hurry as can be seen in the star trails that belie the motion of the comet in just half an hour!  The bright star trail in the bottom right may be that of SAO 64858.

The 3 stacks were summated in Maxim DL and dark point was set using the Levels command in RGB.  Then a negative layer mask was applied and the coma shadow increased and blurred to mask any 'blowout' of the coma during midtone enhancement.  No differential manipulation of colour channels was carried out either in the levels or the curves command of Paintshop.  Midtone enhancement was carried out by manipulating the middle pointer in the levels command towards the left.

2nd Attempt (09/11/06):

 

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