Comets are like cats, they are unpredictable. We need your help to understand them (beta program)

Unistellar is currently extending our citizen science programs to comets. The new Cometary Activity is currently at the beta stage, and will evolve and improve over the coming months, thanks to your feedback.

Ready to start observing Comets with your Unistellar eVscope?

 

Below are two different methods to observe comets. Scroll down the page to learn more about each method.

  • A. It is in the Unistellar app’s database and you’re observing it via the Science Observation mode
  • B. It is not in the app’s database and you’re observing it via the Science Observation mode

A. The comet is in the Unistellar app’s database

  1. In the Unistellar app, select the Explore tab, enter the name of the comet, and tap the Go to button.
  2. Once Go To is done, activate the enhanced vision to observe the comet and its coma live. To activate enhanced vision, click on the eye icon. Enjoy this stellar show! 

    If you want to help comet science, you can now switch to the science mode: 

  3. To record scientific data, stop the enhanced vision and select the Science tab and tap on the cometary activity mode. (If the comet has moved out of your field of view,  repeat step 1.)
  4. Set the Recording parameters according to the instructions for the target on the Campaign page.
  5. Tap LAUNCH to begin the observation.
  6. At the end of the acquisition, a pop-up message will ask for dark frames. Put the dust cap on and press yes.
  7. Please upload your data and submit this REPORT FORM so we know to process your data.

Science mode in the App

B. The comet  is not in the Unistellar app’s database

  1. On your smartphone, visit our Comet Ephemeride page.
  2. In the Ephemeris Parameters section, select your target and enter the location where you’ll be observing, as well as the date and local time when you’ll be observing. 
  3. Click on Generate to get your results.
  4. After a few seconds, the Ephemeris Results section will be generated with a list of coordinates for the night. Each line corresponds to the position of your target at a specific time.
  5. If your target is visible for your location, you will be able to click on the smartphone icon that will open your Unistellar App and fill the Cometary Activity section with the proper fields (coordinates and so on). If your target is not visible, a crossed-out eye icon will appear.
  6. The duration, gain and exposure time should automatically be added in the Cometary Activity menu. If not, please use: Gain 25 db, Exposure Time 3971 ms, Duration 30min00s
  7. Once the RA and Dec are filled, tap the Go to button.
  8. Once Go To is done, activate the enhanced vision to observe the comet and its coma live. To activate enhanced vision, click on the eye icon. Enjoy this stellar show! 

    If you want to help comet science, you can now switch to the science mode: 

  9. To record scientific data, stop the enhanced vision and select the Science tab and tap on the cometary activity mode. (If the comet has moved out of your field of view,  repeat steps 1 to 7.)
  10. Tap LAUNCH to begin the observation.
  11. At the end of the acquisition, a pop-up message will ask for dark frames. Put the dust cap on and press yes.
  12. Please upload your data and submit this REPORT FORM so we know to process your data.

For example, if you want to observe your target at 10 PM PST, you should be ready 10 minutes in advance. At 9:50 PM: on the Moving Target Ephemerides page, in the results section, click on the smartphone button associated with the 10 PM time to send the information to the Unistellar App. The Cometary Activity mode on the App will open with the right coordinates and observing parameters. Click on GoTo to point to your target. At 9:58 PM, Launch the recording.

Ephemeris tool designed by Unistellar

Click here to compute your ephemeris for comets

We will soon provide more information on why we should regularly observe comets. Stay tuned