Comet Imaging Techniques
When I first started trying my hand at deep sky photography, in the early 1980s, recording comets used to be nothing less than a battle against the insensitivity of photographic film and the inevitable arrival of cloud, on those crucial moon-free nights when a bright comet was close to perihelion. In recent years the situation has changed considerably. On the positive side modern CCDs are 20 times more light-sensitive than the best photographic emulsions and image processing is far easier than messing around for hours with revolting chemicals in a darkroom. On the negative side the modern lives of working people leave little room for learning new skills and the stress of the modern working day leaves little enthusiasm for a night-time battle with clouds and unfriendly software and hardware. I firmly believe that well thought out observatories and patient perseverance are the key to achieving success where imaging comets and deep sky objects is concerned. Basically, anyone who has learned to use a computer can learn to take good comet images; it is all a question of surmounting the various hurdles in a systematic fashion. I have always thought that it is good to have a few “hero figures” to look up to. In my early days in the British Astronomical Association I was inspired, like everyone else, by Patrick Moore as well as the lunar photographer Cdr. Henry Hatfield and the lunar and planetary photographer and telescope making genius Horace Dall, but as my interests slowly changed from the Moon and planets to comets, so I looked to other achievers.