Comet C/2014 Q2 Lovejoy

By Anton Winter

Comet C/2014 Q2 Lovejoy was discovered on 17 August 2014 by Terry Lovejoy, an Australian amateur astronomer, and photographed by myself on the 20th December 2014.

I was able to locate this “fuzzy ball” in a pair of 10×50 binoculars a week before I captured this image, but I had to wait for suitable weather before I could suitably image it. This comet has brightened more than expected over the last few weeks and will get brighter for the next few before it disappears from our southern skies and becomes more observable in the northern hemisphere.

While I’ve become used to pre-processing Deep Space Objects, processing this image of a comet was quite challenging. I had to double the work involved to be able to get pinpoint stars and to also get a pinpoint comet. Obviously the comet is moving at a different rate from my perspective than the stars themselves which my mount and guide scope was tracking so I learnt a bit while processing this one in Pixinsight.


Modified Canon 550D on a Orion ED80T CF with a HEQ5Pro GoTo mount.

Exposure Time:

Total exposure time on this comet was just 60 minutes, made up of the following sub-exposures:

  • 15 x 2 minute
  • 6 x 5 minute

This time I did take a few 2 & 5 minute dark calibration frames. I also got to test out my new Electroluminescent (EL) panel for taking flat frames which seemed to work well. I however didn’t take any bias frames this time around, but I certainly will next time now that I know how to take them 😉