For reasons only an astronomer (professional or amateur) would understand, I got in the car at around 9:00 pm and drove to an open field around 25 miles south of Erie, PA. The glow of the Erie city was north of the ridge that runs along I90 as I chose an ice-covered hilltop from which to hunt for and hopefully photograph comet Lulin.http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observin ... 92534.html
Clear skies in Erie are rare enough that the trip was worth the effort. Melanie braved the 13 degree air to ride along with me, although she wisely remained in the car with the heater running whilst I got out to do my comet viewing.
Astronomy websites advised that Lulin should be visible with the naked eye. Maybe someone with better eyesight than me could see it, but it required the assistance of my 7x35mm binoculars to find it. Fortunately, Lulin's position near a readily identifiable group of stars at the rear of Leo, and especially with Saturn's presence, made finding the fuzzy blob easy enough.
The Minolta and tripod were nearby for an attempt to photograph Lulin, but since its timer will only keep the "shutter" open for 60 seconds, and because the comet was so faint, I figured it would not be worth the trouble. I'll have to leave the breathtaking images to the people with real motorized telescopes and cameras built for the job.
- Kirt Blattenberger
RF Cafe Progenitor & Webmaster