Comet Garradd moving past a star in Ursa Minor using the 21 inch Swanson March 6, 2012.
Check out Beautiful Universe 2012 from Sky & Telescope and see the picture of the recent comet and the asterism Collinder 399, the “Coathanger Asterism”, a wonderful shot of the comet and the “Coathanger Asterism” in the same field of view.
The night of August 27 proved to be one of the better Saturday nights of the summer for observing. The temperature was pretty warm during the day, but a strong northerly breeze helped keep the humidity and haze low. Earlier in the week I had made plans to set up my telescope and support the observing effort after the Saturday night planetarium show since it looked like the weather was going to be decent. I also hoped to get the chance to use the Society’s MallinCam with my scope. In order to facilitate connecting the MallinCam to my Meade 8 inch Schmidt-Cassegrain, I asked Richard Norman to bring his focal reducer if he intended to be there on Saturday evening. (My Schmidt-Cassegrain is an f/10, so its focal length is pretty long and why a focal reducer was needed.) Luckliy for me, Richard was there on Saturday night with his case of adapters, extension tubes and a couple focal reducers.
After setting up and balancing my scope we waited for the end of “civil twilight”, which Doug Horacek announced was going to be at 7:46 pm. I made the comment that at that point “uncivil twilight” would begin, to which there was a mild response of laughter from those within earshot. Once darkness fell, I was able to polar align my Orion Atlas EQ-G mount and make a three-star alignment. It was time to hook up the MallinCam and set our sights on M101 in Ursa Major in hopes of spotting the Type Ia supernova PTF11kly that had only been discovered in the Pinwheel Galaxy (M101) a few days earlier.