Photographing Comet ATLAS

I’m going to try and shoot the Comet Atlas in April and May and my thoughts are to start with standard Milky Way parameters, and maybe add some stacking to enhance the image. Are there other considerations I should be thinking of?

Hi Diane,

Welcome to the RMSP Community!

That’s awesome that you’re planning on capturing the Atlas comet. Are you thinking of getting a wide shot of the comet if it gets very bright, or using a longer lens to get in close? Let me know your approach and I’ll help you get started!

Hi Forest,
I was thinking of trying both the Nikon 14-24mm and the 85 1.4 mm, with the FTZ adapter on my Nikon Z7.

Awesome! Depending on how bright the comet gets, it might never be bright/big enough for the 12-24mm (we never really know with comets). The 85mm however you would be able to use now to capture it if you wanted to practice!

When it comes to capturing it, the first step is finding it. You would want to use a website like TheSkyLive to locate the nearby constallations and stars as it will be much easier to use a bright star to locate vs. the comet itself (until it gets bright).

Use live view to focus and center the comet.

As for exposure, without a tracker you will be limited to the 400 rule to ensure that you don’t get trailed stars. So, 400/80mm = 5 seconds. So that will be our shutter speed. Aperture will be wife open at f/1.4, start with an ISO of 3200.

Take a test exposure and see how it looks. Adjust the exposure until the spike of dark sky information is about a fifth of the way across the histogram. We don’t want any part of the sky to be clipped. At this point, you should see the comet! If you don’t recheck your framing.

At that point you did it! If you’re looking for the best possible results, you can try stacking, adding darks, flats, and bias frames into the equation or even purchasing a tracker to allow for a shutter speed of longer than 5 seconds. You can learn more about all of this here.

I hope that helps! Let me know if you have any other questions. :+1:

Unfortunately it looks like the ATLAS (C/2019 Y4) comet may have started the disintegration process. It has faded in brightness the last couple of nights and may not be as bright in the coming months as we had hoped :frowning: