Comet PanSTARRS

Right this report has been hanging over me now for a while and i've struggled to make a start on it. Also i've been taking a lot of shots recently and have more reports to do, so ive decided to cut it very short and just show my images with a description.



The hunt for PanStarrs began on the 11th/12th March when i travelled to the north coast with fellow photographers Martin McKenna, Peter Scott and Steve Lansdell. Peter and Steve had travelled over from England for a few days shooting and no better place than the north coast! We had great fun at Giants Causway and Dunluce Castle. There was to be no sighting of PanSTARRS on this occasion as low cloud on the horizon ruined our chances, however with clear skies we made the most of it. That's me on the Giants Causway above taking in the view, thanks for taking the shot Martin.


The steps at Dunluce castle with the Milky Way, this was one of my favourites from the night.


A low down perspective on the famous Medieval ruins. It's hard to believe how cold it was this night as we all sat on the grass taking photos and talking as i write this in temps of 25 degrees. That night was one of the coldest March nights on record if i remember correctly and i picked up a chill which took a few days to shake. Temperature reading on the car going home that morning was -7 Degrees!!


As Pete and Steve headed back to their B&B Martin and i had some fun on the beach messing about with ghostly images-great end to a great night.


On March 13th comet C/2011 L4 PanSTARRS finally revealed itself. I travelled to a local mountain as i knew the extra elevation would work in my favour. I first picked it up in my 10x42 binoculars and it looked superb. A golden colour in the twilight sky. It's in a five o clock position down from the crescent moon above that darker cloud.


Zoomed in.




Now March 15th and a lucky shot. This clear patch was the only clear sky in the western sky. I had been back on the mountain for an hour and sky conditions were not good, all hope was lost for a sighting and i had nearly packed up and gone home a few times. Sometimes it pays off to not give up so easily and this time i was rewarded. I trained my camera on this small patch of sky and couldn't believe it when PanSTARRS appeared. This was special because it was also my first visual sighting of a comet with the naked eye.


March 29th and after a frustrating period of bad weather the comet lines up with M31 for a lovely conjunction that would last for a week or so.


Deep crop


Beaghmore stone circles and the pair now closer together, 3rd April


The last two comet images were taken April 5th at Lough Derg, County Donegal. M31 and PanSTARRS a beautiful sight together in the night sky and this was goodbye for me on an enjoyable few weeks of comet hunting. Now we wait in anticipation of ISON later in the year and if it lives up to expectations we could be in for quite a treat!

Check out Martin's report of his adventures with comet PanSTARRS, a brilliant in depth article with outstanding images. Heres the link




I really wanted to include this image from the first night at the coast. A stunning shot from Peter Scott, that's me on the famous rocks and Martin taking images, Thanks Peter!