See below for November 30th observing information:
Comet ISON has made it around the Sun at least partially intact! This is great news for those who are looking for an opportunity to see this comet. The current magnitude is almost -1 which means it should be easily visible to the naked eye as it comes back around the Sun to be visible once again in the morning skies.
On November 30th, you may be able to see the comet if you're up early enough. The comet is set to rise starting at 6:55 AM CST in the Northeast sky (see graphic for coordinate information) and may be visible up to just before the Sun rises at 7:26 AM CST.
It is not yet known how long the comet will remain viable. There were some concerns that it might not even make it through the approach. Especially (as can be seen in my previous post of SOHO images) since the comet showed some active disintegration and disappeared for a bit on it's way around the Sun. There is an expectation that better information about the comet, and how stable it really is, will be coming out over the next few days as more observations are able to take place.
In the mean time, I took the liberty of doing a little bit of astrophotography this evening with my Nikon D80, 70-300mm telephoto lens and a tripod. While this is certainly not an ideal setup, it still manages to capture a few shorter exposure shots well enough. I had two goals with this outing, the first was to see if there was any way to snag comet ISON this evening after sunset since the Sun set prior to the comet. Alas, this was a bunk effort not only due to the bright sunset but because of low clouds in the Western sky. Even so, those clouds made for some very nice sunset photos (see gallery).
The second goal was to see if I could capture Comet Lovejoy. This comet has gone from naked eye visibility in mid-November to binocular, telescope and photo visibility at this point running around the 7-8th magnitude for right now (it's only going to get dimmer from here). I pointed my camera at roughly the spot where I expected it should be and started snapping a couple pictures. Unfortunately, my electronics weren't working well tonight and I wasn't able to look up the exact position of the comet and get better pictures while zoomed in. But, to my surprise, I DID snag some faint shots of it without any zoom. While these shots are very clearly not very good, the accomplishment is that something was obtained. One other thing to note is that aircraft were everywhere tonight and interfered with several of the shots that I kept.
You can view the fruits of labor here: http://www.collegeastronomy.com/gallery/deneb-vega-venus-comet-c2013-r1-lovejoy/
Happy comet viewing everyone! Keep checking in for updates, I will post more as I have them.
The planet Venus, the Ring Nebula, the Andromeda Galaxy (and companion galaxy M32) and the Hercules Globular Cluster were all worth the crisp autumn air. Much thanks to that air there was relatively good visibility for the Kansas City metro area. As such, it was time to break out the 6" refractor once again and give my T-Ring to Nikon camera adapter a whirl.
You can see the fruits of that labor here:
In summary, the evening went well even though it was quite chilly. After getting things up and going I started out by snagging a few, less than impressive, shots of Venus. Then as it darkened up a bit I set my eyes on getting some better shots of what I could easily find around the night sky. Especially for my first photography session ever using a DSLR. I started with M57 the Ring Nebula which was a great site when it popped into view after a simple 4 second exposure! Once I'd finished here I thought I'd try for something a little more elusive but still a sure thing if I could star hop to it. Sure enough I was able to get M31 the Andromeda Galaxy as well as one of its companion galaxies (M32) in the frame. I managed to capture several really good shots with most of them (before processing in some cases) showing the dust lines of the galaxy's spiral arms. I did not expect to see this detail. After these I headed for one last, easy to snag, object, M13 the Hercules Globular Cluster which my mount failed to properly find earlier in the night. Once I star hopped to it I was able to snag some really great shots of it before calling it a night and comping back here to process and post the results. Hopefully you guys can enjoy the images as much as I enjoyed taking them!
Rounding off a three-fer in Astronomical events of late is the June 5th 2012 Venus transit across the face of the Sun.
Included here is an approximation of what you should see viewing the sun from Lawrence, KS at approximately 7PM local time and an accompanying video of the transit progress from 5PM local time through sunset.
Video: June 5th 2012, Venus Transit – Lawrence, KS
While this event may not seem as spectacular as the previous two eclipses (one solar on May 20th and one lunar on June 4th) this event is actually more significant because it is the very last time Venus will cross the face of the sun in our lifetime (unless we really have some astonishing medical accomplishments in the next 30-50 or so years)! The next transit will happen in the year 2117!
I'm also including a site with various viewing information here: http://www.transitofvenus.org
Again, please be safe when viewing this event. You should take the same precautions as you would for a solar eclipse or any other solar viewing event. The site above has a good section on eye safety so please view it in leiu of me regurgitating it here.
Happy viewing and be safe!