While we’re all waiting with bated breath to see what Comet ISON decides to do in 2013, the Solar System is continuing to throw ice balls our way. The latest one keeping astronomers busy is Comet C/2012 K5 (LINEAR), which has been visible in the sky for the last couple of weeks, and should keep us entertained for a few more.
In late December, the comet was a fairly compact iceball, but it flared up nicely in early January, producing a sizable tail, well worth searching for with a set of binoculars or small telescope.
A trio of astrophotographers pooled their efforts on January 4/5 and created this series of time lapses showing the comet from their different equipment setups, and different locations. First up, Mark Behrendt from Chicago, IL used an 8″ Celestron and captured the images using a Canon T3i DSLR camera. Then Cory Schmitz used his 10″ Zhumell Dobsonian telescope, captured images on a Canon T2i from Ames, IA. Finally, Mike Rector in Plattsburg, NY used a Celestron Omni XLT 150, with a Canon 350D camera.
The three time lapses were stitched together by Cory Schmitz into the composite video you’re seeing attached to this article.
Although he wasn’t able to capture a time lapse, Mike Phillips in Apex, NC was able to capture a single long exposure image of the comet using his 14″ homebuilt Newtonian “Akule”.
Comet C/2012 K% (LINEAR) captured by Mike Phillips
Here’s an article from Astrobob giving more details on the comet, and its predicted path over the rest of this month. Bob shares a few more images of the comet taken by astronomers from around the world.
As Bob says, C/2012 K5 is a nice little warmup comet. Nothing dazzling, but a worthwhile challenge to test your astrophotography skills and knowledge of the sky. But in 2013, the sky show is going to get better and better. C/2011 L4 PANSTARRS will arrive in March and provide a much brighter comet in the night sky. And if we’re lucky, ISON will blaze at the end of the year, giving us one of the brightest comets in years.
Want to see more of their work? Mark, Cory and both Mikes are regular participants in our Virtual Star Party, where we connect several telescopes up live into a Google+ Hangout and show what’s happening in the night sky.