Sunday, December 4, 2011

Amateur astronomer discovers sungrazing comet

Back in the day, it used to be that most new comets and asteroids were discovered by astronomers diligently sitting at their eyepieces, spending one cold night after another patiently scanning the skies. The advent of robotic astronomy changed that, and now the vast majority of all celestial newcomers are found automatically.
But Australian "amateur" astronomer Terry Lovejoy changed that last week: not only did he discover a comet — which isn’t that unusual, though still cool — but it turns out to be a sungrazer, a comet that plunges deep down to the center of the solar system, practically skimming the Sun’s surface.
Here is Lovejoy’s discovery image:



Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
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