Comet 81/P WIld
Comet 81/P Wild

Comet Wild 2 is a short periodic comet with an orbital period of 6 years. Before its close encounter with Jupiter during September 1974 his orbit was almost circular and had a 43 year period. But the gravitational pull of the giant gas planet made Wild 2 to a member of the inner solar system. In 2004 the comet was target of the NASA mission "Stardust", which took samples of the coma and returned them back to earth. Our image was obtained during a trip to southern france in February 2010 and shows a nice 1 degree long tail.

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Astronomy Cast

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Comet C/2009 K5 (McNaught)

April 17 was a beautiful day with absolutely no clouds. The daytime sky was blue maybe a little haze was noticeable but not realy sure if that was caused by the volcanic ash coming from islandic volcano Eyjafjallajok├╝ll.

c2009k5_c14_100417_thumbAfter sunset the crescent Moon and Venus were a fine sight to see. The first half of the night was dedicated to follow-up work of NEOS K10F81A, K10G07S, K10G24A, K10G30H. For a closer at 3 am I decided to take a peak on Comet McNaught. With a brightness of 9 mag it was moving fast through the rich starfields of the milkyway. A single 30 second exposure showed a 5' large coma and a approx. 9' long tail in PA 120┬░. So McNaught is heading now to its perihel on April 30. For an animation showing the movement between the stars from 01:03 - 1:26 UT click here. ( 4 MB large)