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Tuesday, February 17th, 2009
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Comet C/2007 N3 (Lulin)

This comet's green color comes from a type of carbon and cyanogen, a poisonous gas.

It's been overcast here for weeks now, and it's been a very frustrating time for astro shooting. Last night there were no clouds here, but it was very foggy, and I was just beside myself, because the window of visibility for this beautiful green comet may be very short; also, once gone, it'll really be gone — it's about to achieve escape velocity for the solar system and take off for deep space... it won't be by again. Literally a once in a lifetime chance to make the catch!

So I called the national weather service office here in Glasgow, and asked them about visibility for 4 AM, which was about the optimum time for this comet this morning (it is highest above the southern horizon at that time, about 40°.) The NWS staff said that if I went south about fifty miles into McCone county, I should come out from under the fog, and that the clouds coming north should not quite be far enough along to obscure my view.

So Deb and I hopped into our car and crept through dense fog for several hours until we were south on highway 24 about fifty miles, and sure enough, the fog broke. Below the comet, clouds were piling up at an amazing rate, but I had enough time to shoot 31, two-second frames before the clouds made continuing impossible.

Driving back, I was cheerful, and Deb was supportive, though she probably had most of her attention on trying to spot deer so the night wouldn't become more of an adventure than we really wanted. I had to go into 4-wheel drive a couple of times where snow had drifted over the highway just below Fort Peck, and we slowed to avoid quite a few deer. All in all a hundred miles of mostly foggy driving for about a minute of shooting, but I did get the comet, and Deb has another "crazy Ben" story to tell. 😊

#astro #comet

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Height: 912

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