Jump to top page

Memorable Comets

<Comet Stephan-Oterma and M1>

    On December 5, 1980, a year before Geisei Observatory's 60cm reflector was completed, Comet Stepan-Oterma with a period of 37 years passed by the Crab Nebula (M1) within just 15 arcminutes of it. That night, the comet almost in contact with the Crab Nebula was viewed quite easily in a small telescope with its brightness being just about equal to that of the nebula. The photograph below was taken by the 40cm f/5 reflector equipped with a Kojima mirror. Geisei's 60cm reflector did not exist at that time.

    In those days Kodak's 103a-E astronomical glass plate was often used. Its excellence in film plane flatness and reduction of reciprocity law failure helped to produce superb images. It was also highly sensitive to red. Since about 1985 I have been often using Technical Pan 6415, instead of the expensive glass plates. With this new film I attempted to capture Halley's Comet first in Japan on its 76-year return trip.

13-minute exposure from 1:50 J.S.T. on December 6, 1980
40cm reflector
103a-E photographic plate

Copyright (C) 2005 Tsutomu Seki.