The first comet discovered by observers using the Schulman Telescope.
Dedicated only six months ago as the nation’s largest instrument of its kind devoted to public outreach and citizen science, the 32-inch Schulman Telescope at the Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter has shown that it can do more than offer awe-inspiring glimpses into the universe.
“We originally scheduled our observations for Saturday (Oct. 14), but the SkyCenter telescope was used for local operations by visiting astronomers. Therefore, I had to move the jobs to Sunday. If the Schulman Telescope had been running for SSON on Saturday, the comet most likely would have been outside the field of view and I wouldn’t have found it.” (Credit: Daniel Stolte, University Communications)via uanews
Great question! We will send it to one of our resident physicists and will post his response shortly. Thank you for your comment!
Silly question. But what is the gravel colored black and white in the background. It seems to move all the time. And the large circle in the gravel at the bottom, there a long line thats attached. Is that just part of the film or camera? (sorry first time seeing one. I love it. You’ve got good eyes to spot the comet.)
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Hello “seepurple”, thanks so much for such a good question. Astrophotography has been one of the most significant advances in astronomy and has been used since the mid-1800’s. Many techniques have been used to improve the resolution and contrast to observe more accurately what is being observed. These techniques have ranged from very early chemical developing processes, i.e. dark-room celluloid film developing, to modern digital and charge coupled devices (CCD’s) most familiar in modern digital cameras.
All photographic processes work on the basis of accumulating as much light as possible to accurately represent was is being observed. To do this cameras have what is called an exposure setting – the longer the exposure time the more light. Unfortunately, this process does result in what is called “graininess” in the resulting film or picture and does have a “gravel-like” appearance as you have noted. Since the exposure times vary considerably in many astronomical pictures there are various degrees of the this graininess.
Without knowing the technical details of the exposure and the camera used in the above picture the best one can say is that this appearance is probably due to this phenomena.
The reason one sees lines or curves in the photo is that this is really not a continuous video of the motion of the comet but rather a collection of many still photographs over a some time period (possibly several minutes to several days) that are overlapped in a kind of “time-lapse” sequence giving the appearance of an object moving. Note that the circles around certain stars are indicating no motion over the time-lapse whereas the comet is clearly changing position. Fluctuations in the graininess in the consecutive shots are probably giving the appearance of the lines and curves you have mentioned.
Hope this helps in explaining what you observed and thanks again for the great question.