Friday, September 2, 2011

Trajectory of Comet Garradd Shows Earth Will Move Through It's Tail This Winter.

A COMET AMONG THE STARS: As September begins, green Comet Garradd is gliding across the star fields of the Milky Way in the early evening sky. The icy visitor from tthe outer solar system is not yet visible to the naked eye, but it looks great through amateur telescopes (recommended: The Comet Hunter). Maximilian Teodorescu sends this picture from his backyard observatory in Comana, Romania:
"I took the picture on Sep. 1st using my 8-inch telescope--a 34 minute exposure at ISO 6400," says Teodorescu. "The comet looks so nice in front of the Milky Way."

Astrophotographer Pete Lawrence of Selsey UK points out that Comet Garradd is approaching Brocchi's Cluster--also known as "the Coathanger." Lawrence photographed the approach on Sept. 1st. "The best night for a photo opportunity between Garradd and The Coathanger is on the 2nd of September leading into the morning of the 3rd, when the comet will pass very close to the hook of the hanger."

For now Comet Garradd is a telescopic object. It is, however, approaching the sun and brightening. Recent projections place it at peak magnitude 6, on the threshold of naked-eye visibility, in February 2012. Because Comet Garradd is a first-time visitor to the inner solar system, it could behave in unexpected ways, perhaps exceeding those expectations. Stay tuned--and meanwhile browse the image links below.

more images: from Parks Squyres of SaddleBrooke, Arizona; from Chris Schur of Payson, Arizona; from Tamas Abraham of Zsambek, Hungary; from Efrain Morales Rivera of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico

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