domenica 17 gennaio 2016
COMET CATALINA CLOSEST APPROACH TO EARTH: Discovered in 2013 by the Catalina Sky Survey, Comet Catalina (C/2013 US10) is making a one-time trip through the inner solar system. It swung around the sun last November and is now making its closest approach to Earth: 67 million miles away on Jan. 17th. Dr. Fritz Helmut Hemmerich sends this picture from Tenerife, Canary Islands:
"This is Comet Catalina (C2013US10) during a cloudy morning session on Jan. 16th," says Hemmerich. "I thought the photo could be useful as a finder chart. As the inset shows, the comet is located near the handle of the Big Dipper."
The 6th magnitude comet is too dim for the naked eye, but it is an easy target for backyard telescopes and digital cameras. In fact, Hemmerich's photo was taken using no telescope, just a Sony A7s camera set at ISO3200 for a 45 second exposure.
This is Comet Catalina's first visit to the inner solar system--and its last. The comet's close encounter with the sun in mid-November has placed it on a slingshot trajectory toward interstellar space. Enjoy it now. Once it recedes from Earth, we may never see it again. Browse the realtime comet gallery for more sightings.