TEXT HERE DOES NOT MATCH WITH PICTURES. NEW TEXT IS UNDER CONSTRUCTION. (This old version is temporarily preserved for own use to help in writing new captions.)
HERE ARE (VERY) OLD SLIDE SCANS. SLIDES WILL BE RE-SCANNED, IMAGES ENLARGED AND NEW SLIDES SCANNED IN FUTURE.
While still recovering from Hale-Bopp-fever a disturbing piece of news arrived: new and supposedly bright comet was approaching and was to visit Andromeda galaxy high on the sky! My first sighting of the heavenly sailor Ikeya-Zhang was 13/14 March 2002; nothing big but rather an "emergency recording" before comet's disappearance behind treetops. In March 30/31 I-Z was already a circumpolar object and so there was time and opporturnities to photograph it in different ways. The tail was not too conspicious (compared to H-B), but the exitement was, whether weather would allow the great encounter with M31.
*Night 1/2 April clear: great, photography and cropping OK with 135mm lens. ..clouds..
*Night 4/5 April was clear: the big encounter just tonight and all of the lenses 28mm-300mm in use! Tail about 7 degrees with 7x50 binoculars.
*Night 5/6 April clear: clearly had passed M31 and also their mutual position was such that no good cropping was possible, but still ..very happy!
*11/12 April clear and moon about to start disturbing period: one of the final efforts to catch I-Z approaching the red nebulas in Cassiopeia.
*15/16 April was the last possible night to get the comet in a moonless AM-sky in Cassiopeia.
After Ikeya-Zhang many night sky observers must have had great vibs: three great comets in such a short time. Not much more to wish to feed eyes of one generation! And to this euforia we got a new nice piece of news: reasonably bright Comet Machholz will pass Pleiades and climb high into Milkyway early in Jan 2005.
Again weather had planned to ruin all critical moments: encounter with Pleiades and later with California nebula. Clouds persisted every night after the moon had loosened its grip in the begining of Jan and heavy rain poured still in the critical evening 7/8Jan05. Satellite images suggested of a sharp cloud border approaching from West. When TV-weather spoke of "dry air flowing from NW", it was worth to risk and start driving in heavy rain. After 60kms Vega emerged low in NW, ten more kms and it was only 4/8 cloudy and when arriving in observing site, sky was practically clear! My first proper sight of Machholz and so close to Pleiades!
The next few nights were cloudy, but as the encounter with California nebula approached, skies cleared for night 12/13Jan and again for night 14/15Jan. After that I had to wait for 4 weeks for the moon to vanish and to wash clouds away. The very last night before moon again was to spoil dark skies was 11/12Feb and surprisingly it eventually cleared up. And after that again 4 weeks' wait for the next and final encounter: Machholz next to Pole Star. Luckily 9/10Mar was the next (!) clear night and this "grand finale" could be witnessed.