May 15-16, 2020
Weather: Clear, mild, calm, humidity <25%. 88-68°F (31-20°C).
Observing Time: sundown till sunup! (21:30 – 4:30/ UTC -7)
Bortle Scale: 2
Now that Comet C/2020 F8 (SWAN) was becoming more visible to northern observers, this was the time for us to check it out. The images from observers in the southern hemisphere proved that it was more impressive than C/2019 Y4 (ATLAS), especially the images that showed a tail.
Unfortunately, as great of a sky that Rice provides, (SWAN)’s hugging of the horizon as it gets closer to the Sun will prove to be its downfall for casual viewers wishing to see it. The comet rose at 3:45 local time, but twilight was to begin 15 minutes later… By the time I was done, the twilight glow was already obvious. The waning crescent moon wasn’t a big help either.
Earlier through the night, my telescope and autoguider worked through the backlash and balance issues with the SkyView and did a great job capturing some of the best images I’ve taken from Sagittarius/Scorpius region… C76, M6, M7, M8, M16, M17, M20, and M22 all gave me great results… oh, and a decent shot of M51 for good measure…
I was especially happy with M16, the pillars showed up very clearly!
The SkyView mount has been giving me some good years of service, but the DEC backlash and the 8″ telescope photography setup is proving too much for the max load capacity – especially for dimmer objects that require a good amount of exposures. Oh sure. I can’t wait to get longer exposures with a heavier mount which should easily handle the set up load…. but it’s tough to save money during the Covid-19 crisis.
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