Our friend Sylvain Trépanier posted this beautiful photo on EarthSky Facebook this weekend. He captured this comet – C/2012 K1 (PANSTARRS) – on September 19, 2014. Sylvain wrote:
Very late at night, under a crystal sky and a beautiful crescent moon, the comet is very low and … the sun rises quickly …
I am delighted and satisfied with this decision, a comet is always a magical moment.
17 exposures of 1 minutes
Backyard EOS Capture
Canon T3i non Filter Cntl
ED80 to 6.3F
This comet was discovered on May 17, 2012 when it 1.3 billion kilometers from the sun. It has been visible to telescope and binocular users throughout 2014. Its perihelion (closest point to the sun, in this case about the same as Earth’s distance at 150 million kilometers) was August 27. The comet crossed the celestial equator on 15 September 2014 becoming a Southern Hemisphere object. Its closest approach to Earth will happen on October 31 at a distance of 142 million kilometers. It’s expected to reach its peak magnitude of ~6 in mid-October 2014. Then it may be visible to experienced skywatchers using only their eyes, but the comet will remain much easier to detect using binoculars or a telescope.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.