Leonard E Parker

Center for Gravitation, Cosmology & Astrophysics

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Leonard E Parker Center for Gravitation, Cosmology and Astrophysics

WIYN keeping an eye on comet ISON

Posted by Laura Nuttall on February 18, 2014

Comet ISON made an appearance in our skies during 2013 as it hurtled through our solar system, passing extremely close the Sun. Ralf Kotulla, a postdoctoral research associate within the CGCA, spent a little time during a joint UW-Milwaukee/UW-Madison observing run on the WIYN telescope to take advantage of this passing comet and captured beautiful images, one of which is now a finalist in the NSFs comet ISON photo contest (vote for Ralf's entry).

This image shows the comet in the constellation of LEO as it moves through the solar system. The data for this image were obtained in the morning hours of an observing run on the WIYN 3.5 m telescope lead by graduate students of the Department of Astronomy at the University of Wisconsin.

The bright, unresolved nucleus of the comet as well as its diffuse, blueish coma and long tail are easily visible. As the telescope was following the comets movement relative the the background star-field, stars became elongated, and repeated observations with different filters created a caleidoscope of colors. Two satellites crossed the path of the comet during the exposure and are visible as green and red streaks, adding to the starry firework.

More information about the competition and other entries.

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