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Unterneukirchner (17) depicts the newly discovered comet Nishimura

Unterneukirchner (17) depicts the newly discovered comet Nishimura

Comet Nishimura was discovered in August by a Japanese man with the same name. -Photos: Rudloff

It’s 3:30 in the morning when Mario Rudloff’s alarm goes off. The starry sky above his parents’ farm in Ebbenbischel (Unterneukirchen, Altötting District) is crystal clear. The 17-year-old sets up his telescope. Today he wants to photograph Comet Nishimura, which was newly discovered in August.

Mario got approximate coordinates from the internet. He doesn’t know yet whether he will actually be able to put the comet in front of his lens. At about five o’clock in the morning, he drives to the Tail Star, but he cannot find it. The time window is short. Soon it will be too light to photograph. Mario uses the coordinates of the nearby star and then begins searching. “I don’t know if it’s luck or logic,” he says. Suddenly Nishimura was in his field of vision. Mario takes the photo with an exposure time of 40 seconds.

“I always thought it would be impossible to take pictures of galaxies and stars in particular,” says Mario Rudloff. Only NASA could do something like this with its space telescope. But last spring, he found photos of the planets taken by an amateur on the Internet. This appeals to the 17-year-old: with his savings – almost 2,000 euros – he buys a telescope and a planetary camera.

Chemical technician at Dyneon in Gendorf

The man from Unterneukirch is currently in his second year of training as a chemical technician at Dyneon in Gendorf. He has always been interested in all things scientific, especially astronomy.

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On his cell phone he shows some blurry photos with a glowing circle. Mario’s first attempts: “I wanted to photograph the moon.” That was four months ago in May. The 17-year-old has made his way into the hobby little by little. He asks questions on Internet forums and learns how to use the equipment he has purchased. There is an instruction manual though. “But you don’t learn it by reading, you have to experience it,” he says.

– Mac