from our press release: Comet observation from top of a 3000m high mountain!
Currently, comet PanSTARRS is visible in the northern hemisphere during dawn. Experts from Tyrol went up to the top of the 3055 m high “Gaislachkogel”, a mountain in the Ötztal, to take night shots of our cosmic neighbour.
The current weather situation in Tyrol was not appropriate for observing comet PanSTARRS in the past few days. Therefore, well-known TWAN astrophotographer and ESO.org/ALMA foto ambassador Christoph Malin, astrophysicist Dr. Wolfgang Kausch of the Institute for Astro- and Particle Physics of the Univ. of Innsbruck, and worldwide expedition weather expert and mountain guide Dr. Michael Winkler from austrian weather service ZAMG searched for a location with a good sight to the comet.
“We’ve investigated several mountains around Innsbruck in the Gschnitztal, Stubaital, and Ötztal, which seemed to be approppriate for the comet observations”, said Wolfgang Kausch. “Michael Winkler created the weather forecast for these regions, and Christoph Malin the timetable for the observation itself”.
The final choice was the Gaislachkogel, which provides a good view towards north and west. “From this mountain we expected a good sight to the horizon, although being very cold (minus 25 degree celsius) with gusty winds up to 45 km/h”, said Kausch. “Extremely cold conditions like that can lead to dangerous freezing, so we had to be careful and well equipped”, adds Winkler.
At 13:00 the final “GO” came from weather expert Michael Winkler, so the expedition had to hurry up to reach the top of the mountain.
The first camera shots of the comet were taken at 19:05, with the camera lenses being heated against frost. After several hundred shots of the starry night sky the expedition ended at 01:00 with a night downhill skiing trip. “Thanks to teamwork and perfect planning, it was a great adventure”, said Wolfgang Kausch. “Many thanks to Ötztal tourism and the cable car company ‘Bergbahnen Sölden’ for their great support.”
A short film from Christoph Malin is available here:
Please also visit other breathtaking Films of Christoph Malin here:
“ISS Image Frontier – Making the Invisible Visible”, vimeo.com/61083440
“Astronomer’s Paradise”, vimeo.com/36972668
“Island in the Sky”, vimeo.com/53845425/
“Urban – Mountain – Sky”, vimeo.com/40969904
Additional Comet- and Astronomy Weblinks worth a visit:
The World at Night (UNESCO IYA 2009 Project; Worlds largest Landscape Astronomy Site, Image source for National Geographic, BBC, Discovery, GEO etc., over 10000 images and Films to Comets, Solar and Lunar Eclipses, Meteorites, Telescopes and the Nightsky above most World Heritage Sites)