New moon

"C/2011 L4 PANSTARRS and new moon," a photo by Rob Pfile shared in the Boing Boing Flickr Pool. "Stack of 14 images, 1/10s @ ISO1600 and f/4. canon 200 f/2.8L and canon 60D," Rob explains. "Got lucky with a break in the clouds. alignment with FFTAlignment script. workin' miracles again."


  1. I hate living near the city. I miss things like this all the time :(

    I got the transit of Venus, though! Daylight cosmic event w00t! :D

      1. It’s a beautiful view, but it precludes viewing astronomical phenomena that take place at sunset. Also not helped by the ten trillion watt light on the Tram House.

        1. Really?  I thought the tram only operated until sunset or so.  Then again, last time I was in the area was late 97.
          That tram.  It’s incredible going from pool weather to snowy forest in 15 minutes.

          However, take away the mountain, and the Riverside/San Bernardino/LA glare would surely impede any quality star gazing.

  2. I stood out in the cold for a couple hours… I thought the comet was going to be between the moon and the horizon, and that it would be larger than the moon’s disc. I never saw it, and went home disappointed; damn.

  3. At sunset on Tuesday, four of us were scanning the horizon for the moon, it took me AGES to find it, a very thin and dim sliver.  Then I pointed it out to my friends, yet they still couldn’t see it, it took them a while.
    Then we got to work and party at the same time:  I’ve got an 8″ Dobsonian (reflector) beauty, my friend has a smaller refractor but with very high quality optics.  We saw Panstarrs easily with the scopes, but not at all with the naked eye.
    After the comet, there was still Jupiter and the Orion Nebula to gawk at close to the zenith, then the fog kicked into high gear.
    All in all, it was a wonderful little amateur astronomy session.

    1. Not quite.  If you were watching the comet, you’d be on the dark side, frozen solid at under -300ºF.
      And since Mercury is “tidally locked”, there you’d remain, on the night side forever.

      1. I hate to nitpick, but everything you wrote here is wrong.
        The image above is a (roughly) accurate depiction of what the comet would have looked like from Mercury on March 14th.
        Numbers from the Minor Planet Center, plugged into the Starry Night astronomy program.
        The comet reached perihelion on March 10th.  At that point it was .302 AU from the Sun.
        Mercury was .4 AU, so the comet was closer to the Sun than Mercury ever gets (.307 AU)
        Today, March 15th, Mercury is .425 AU from the Sun.   The comet is .344 AU from the Sun, so it’s still closer to the Sun than Mercury.  Heading back out into the black, for another hundred thousand years or so.
        Here’s what the Sun would have looked like from the comet on March 10th perihelion:
        Finally, Mercury is not tidally locked.  This was proven by radar observations in 1965.

        1. Holy frijoles, one learns something new every day.  Or in this case, unlearns.
          From Wikipedia, …three rotations about its axis for every two orbits.  Check, ya got me.

          The original brunt of what I tried to say, and failed miserably at it, was that Panstarrs was probably impossible to view from the sun-facing side of Mercury, and what a sun that would be!  But then again, with virtually no atmosphere to disperse light, Panstarrs might after all be visible from there.  Maybe, I don’t know.

          I did however, get Mercury’s night side temperature roughly correct, it’s closer to -280º.
          One out of three ain’t… no wait, that’s not good at all. Unless it’s baseball, then I’d be a millionaire.

          1.  Yeah, being sunside on Mercury (700 K)  or that comet I’m sure is pretty balmy.

            Though it hardly holds a candle to this Comet ISON in November that will come within 1.1 million kilometers of the Sun, which wikipedia informs me will be 2900+ K, hot enough to melt iron.
            I tried to simulate it in my Starry Night program:   Peril-sensitive sunglasses recommended:

            And even that is chilly compared to that Comet Lovejoy in November 2011 that came within 140,000 kilometers of the Sun and somehow made it out relatively intact, despite being at closest exposure for an hour and reaching 1 million kelvin
            Even though this is just yellow pixels on a screen in a simulation, I have a hard time looking at it without fearing I’ll be flash-fried.

            That comet that’s probably going to almost but not quite hit Mars October 19 2014, C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring) reaches perihelion at 1.396 AU, not even inside perihelion of Mars.
            C’mon, comet, you’re not even trying!

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