Comet Panstarrs – The Movie

After successfully finding and imaging Comet Panstarrs last night (Got Panstarrs?), I decided to try something different. My goal was to shoot a long time series which could later be processed and assembled into a movie showing the comet in time-lapse as it set.

While considering this project, Pat suggested that we try a different location where we could gets a clearer shot of the horizon. So we drove 25 miles north from Portal to San Simon, AZ where we enjoyed a lovely view of the Dos Cabezas Mountains to the west.

Arriving 20 minutes after sunset, I quickly set up my equipment: a Nikon D90 and Nikkor 18-200 VR zoom lens for the image sequence, and a Nikon D7000 and Nikkor 80-400 VR zoom lens for still shots. By the time I was ready, it was now dark enough to search for Panstarrs. Pat spotted it first at 6:55 pm. Panstarrs seemed a bit brighter than last night (March 10), but perhaps that was because it was a few degrees higher and not quit as deeply immersed in the glow of twilight. We enjoyed views of the comet in binoculars for several minutes before I “went to work.”

One of the still shots from the image sequence shows Comet PanSTARRS above the Dos Cabezas Mountains on the evening of March 11, 2013. It was taken from San Simon, AZ using a Nikon D90 and Nikkor 18-200 VR zoom lens at 200mm. Photo copyright 2013 by Fred Espenak

ne of the still shots from the image sequence shows Comet PanSTARRS above the Dos Cabezas Mountains on the evening of March 11, 2013. It was taken from San Simon, AZ using a Nikon D90 and Nikkor 18-200 VR zoom lens at 200mm. Photo copyright 2013 by Fred Espenak

A remote cable release timer allowed me to automatically shoot an image of Panstarrs and the Dos Cabezas Mountains every 3 seconds. I used the other camera with the 80-400 zoom to shoot occasional stills as the comet slowly set. By 7:20 pm, the show was over. We packed up and headed home to download and begin processing the images.

The assembled Panstarrs movie appears below. Tomorrow, the crescent Moon joins the comet for a not-to-be-missed conjunction!

Fred Espenak

On the evening of March 11, 2013, Comet PanSTARRS was captured in a time lapse sequence as it set over the Dos Cabezas Mountains. Comet PanSTARRS – The Movie copyright 2013 by Fred Espenak on Vimeo.

20 thoughts on “Comet Panstarrs – The Movie

  1. VERY nice video, Fred. Never seen anyone do that before.

    MAYBE tomorrow night I will get a shot…. with a C8 FASTAR (400mm @ f/2) and also with a Pentax 200 f/2.5. IF the weather is no worse than forecast, of course….
    If I had a third camera I might try 800 f/4 as well (or perhaps even 1200 f/6.3… at least it is low enough that you aren’t standing on your head trying to frame the object.
    See? There is a plus side to everything!)

  2. Wow, GREAT JOB! Of course, the comet is the real show. Visible to the naked eye now, eh? I’m hoping that on Wednesday evening, we’ll be cloudless in St. Louis, MO, so that I can capture it. Have yet to get a cloudless night since it came into view.

  3. Great time-lapse, Fred! I have to see PanSTARRS vicariously, given its low altitude here plus the awful wx. Keep it up! I’ll be watching.

  4. Congratulations, me neither had never seen such an amazing time lapse for a comet ! Please keep on providing us such gorgeous videos ! ;-)
    Manu

  5. Well done Pat and Fred…great teamwork!
    I’m sharing liberally with interested friends! This is also called — being at the RIGHT place at the right time! Thanks for sharing.

  6. Clever Idea to put this together this way! i really enjoyed it. Thanks to Teri Bellows for sharing the link…and hello to Pat!

    • This time-lapse movie contains 265 individual exposures. The exposures were each 2 seconds at F/5.6 (ISO 800) with a 1 second gap between exposures.

  7. Great stills and a great time-lapse movie – thank you for the work you put in to this. We here in Northern Virginia had to roll the dice on March 12, 13……some folk got it, most like me had to wait for the crescent moon to appear and on the first night didn’t get enough to the left, and too low in the sky on the 13th, so I know many appreciate for you have given us.

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