Comet Pan-STARRS

On March 23rd there was finally a clear enough sky in Central Jersey to try and get a good view of Comet Pan-STARRS.  I had managed to view it with my binoculars a week-and-a-half ago through some trees near my house but it would have been impossible to photograph, so I had to bide my time and wait for the weather to cooperate.

There are not many good viewing locations in my area so I took a ten-minute ride to Mercer County Park and walked down to the pier on the lake waterfront.  The comet was too faint to see with the naked eye (I had to use binoculars), but my camera was able to pick it up. It would have been nice if I could have photographed it two weeks ago when it was brighter, but these shots are better than nothing.

All photos were taken with my Panasonic FZ40, which has fairly decent night shooting capability for a point-and-shoot, but still produces more noise than an SLR would.

First view of the comet (center of the photo).

It’s a shame about the power lines, but I still like the views of the comet over the water.

This was only a couple of minutes after the first shot and
it had already descended to almost touch the power line.

The temperature was supposedly in the low 40’s (Fahrenheit) but the wind made it feel more like the low 30’s. By the time I got to the next few photos I could barely feel my right hand (I had to keep removing my glove to work the camera). It was also a little creepy out there in an empty park in the dark, but I persevered. 🙂

This shot shows the comet as a big streak because
the camera was zoomed in with a 60-second exposure.
That’s how much it moved in a minute.
Not a great shot of the comet, but I liked the effect of the airplane streaking across the sky.

I’ll leave you with a couple of shots that don’t have much to do with the comet but they were taken on the same night.

An accidental wide shot, but I liked it so I kept it.
The comet is actually visible as a tiny dot above and to the right of the center power line tower.
This is an 8-second exposure sunset shot I took while I was waiting for the comet.

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