Photo of the Week for February 16, 2018
At any given moment, there are hundreds of comets scattered across the night sky. Mostly they’re too faint and obscure to call attention to themselves. But once in a while, one of these visitors from the solar system’s frigid depths becomes a photographic target when it shares the field of view with a familiar celestial landmark.
Such was the case when the 11th-magnitude Comet C/2016 R2 (PanSTARRS ) slipped by the famed Pleiades star cluster in early February. Astrophotographer Sheila Wiwchar captured this view of the comet (at lower left) and cluster on February 1, 2018, from Kaleida, Manitoba. Conditions that evening were challenging. “The temperature was –24 (with a windchill of –34) and I had only about 30 minutes after twilight and before moonrise to try to get this conjunction,” she reports.
Sheila used a Canon EOS 6D DSLR camera and William Optics Star 71 APO refractor to capture the five, 3-minute exposures at ISO 5000 combined to make this image.