Why is it hard to image a comet? 


Well, they move fast across the sky. Telescopes have to use non-standard tracking rates to keep the comet in the centre of the camera.


iTelescope tries to make this easy for you, you simply can enter the comet name, and we will look it up for you like magic. However, since the comet moves fast, other astronomers make observations and these are used to re-compute the comet's orbital elements, which get refined over time by the Minor Planet Center.


When then the comet is close to Earth, these elements get updated often, and our provider may not have the latest orbital element. In this case, it means that the comet will not be framed correctly on the camera (appear off to one side).


Here is an example of an out-of-date orbital element vs a current element:

0107P         2022 08 24.6633  0.966639  0.631752   95.4418  266.7770    2.7992  20220814   9.0  4.0  107P/Wilson-Harrington 

0107P         2022 08 24.6633  0.966638  0.631752   95.4417  266.7771    2.7992  20220813   9.0  4.0  107P/Wilson-Harrington

You will note how some of the values are slightly different, this is all it takes to take a poor image of a comet and this is why it is so hard! (Please note: this is not a full element, it is short to show as an example only).


To avoid this we suggest you take the latest orbital elements from the Minor Planet Center directly:

https://www.minorplanetcenter.net/iau/Ephemerides/Comets/Soft00Cmt.txt


0107P         2022 08 24.6633  0.966639  0.631752   95.4418  266.7770    2.7992  20220814   9.0  4.0  107P/Wilson-Harrington                                   MPEC 2015-M77

Here is an example of a correctly formatted orbital element of Comet 0107P.


You will need to enter the whole line verbatim into our web form:


DO NOT PRESS THE COMET LOOKUP BUTTON. PLEASE PASTE THE ORBITAL ELEMENT INTO THE BOX WITH THE RED ARROW POINTING TO IT.


You are free to name the target name you wish.


After that, you can save the plan and book a reservation or start the plan if the comet if it is visible.