The Tail of Lovejoy

By: Stephane Guisard


Region: Americas

Site: Santiago - Chile

Date: 2011 December 23

The stunning tail of Comet Lovejoy (C/2011 W3) is photographed in the morning sky above Andes, near Santiago de Chile. The 200-meter icy body not only survived its close perihelion (only 185,000 km from the Sun's surface), but in the days afterward this sungrazer comet also held together and reformed its dust and gas tails. The band of the Milky Way is captured with the constellations Ara, Centaurus, Crux (the Southern Cross near the top), and Carina. Note the two bright stars of Alpha and Beta Centauri in the middle right, the prominent dark cloud of Coalsack nebula above them near the Southern Cross, and the bright Carina Nebula at the top. See this scene in a time-lapse video of the rising comet. Stephane Guisard -

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