Lovejoy for Charlie
By Michel Deconinck (Comet)
Object Name (C/2014 Q2 Lovejoy)
Object Type (Comet in Eridan)
Location (Verdon river in France)
Date (Jan. 11th 2015)
Media (watercolor on white paper, inverted after scan via paint.net)
During the “Charlie Hebdo” event we had to keep the pencil in hand, to prove that life goes on and is beautiful and that cretinism can’t win, ever. Today, poverty of spirit associated with force no longer have a voice in civilized countries !
The Lovejoy expedition.
Four of my good friends astronomers propose to come and enjoy the dark sky of the region. Appointment is made on 8 January in the early evening. The day before I found a good ground for observing this beautiful comet without too many trees in the view. Near the small village of Saint-Laurent, a platform overlooking the north side of the Lake of Artignosc on the Verdon river. First I will make some sketches and (yes I know… sorry guys) photographs of the landscape and material that will serve my watercolor the day after.
The photo of the sky taken on Jan. the 7th (Pentax K50 3.5 – 3sec 25600 ISO -18mm) shows the comet as a brillant green star equivalent magnitude to Pi ORI +/- 4.0. But I’m not here to make photo ! it just allow me to position the stars on the sky background on my future painting.
The evening of Jan. 8th everyone is there, my friends Vincent, Antoine, Yvan and Jean-Bernard, made the trip from Brignoles, La Garde, Forcalqueiret and Salon. It’s cold, the wind and the news from Paris make us shiver.
The comet is visible to the unaided eye, even in direct vision. During the previous night, a tail departure was barely noticeable in my Dobson 12ˮ f 5. Today we are three of us observing a double tail, a very short first part is attached to the hair while another, a sort of fine filament spreading further.
It was extremely difficult to see that tail, face this huge ball of light that is the coma of Comet Lovejoy.
Through a set of 2ˮ filters provided by Vincent (CLS, OIII, UHC) we got to see something other than the coma. This is strangely due to the CLS filter that we have been able to detect some clarity in front of the dark sky. We had to get the coma out of the eyepiece to discern the low-contrast gradient between the black sky and the thin clouds of the tail. We are here at the border of the possibilities for the vision.
Dobson used was a 12ˮ f/d 5 and 2ˮ eyepieces Meade 24mm to Omegon 38mm, UWA. We deployed 80mm and 150mm refractors as well as quality binoculars: Echo and Swarovski.
The watercolor shows our group gathered for this “Lovejoy expedition” after two hours of dense observation.
So the final watercolor shows the views of the sky the day before, a view of the Dobson and -with a flash- portraits taken by the Vincent’s camera.
Observing is also meeting us for the same vibration, the same enthusiasm, and that night it was … it was … there was … something strong in the air!