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Comet Wirtanen (Courtesy ESO)

Comet Wirtanen (Courtesy ESO)


Date: 31 July 1998
Satellite: VLT
Depicts: Comet Wirtanen
Copyright: ESO

The photo mosaic is based on a series of 3-minute exposures through a red filter, obtained with the VLT Test Camera in the evening of July 28, 1998. They were performed in a bright sky (5-day old Moon high in the sky) that resulted in some straylight due to internal reflections in the telescope. In the first three pictures (1 - 3), the very faint image of the comet (in the circles and somewhat elongated because of the motion) approaches a brighter background star from the right hand side. It is hardly visible in the next (4), since it is in front of this star, and in the last two images (5 - 6), it reappears on the left side of the star. At the time of the observations, Comet Wirtanen was 605 million kilometres (4.05 AU) from the Earth and 630 million kilometres (4.20 AU) from the Sun. The estimated magnitude is approx. 23 or beyond, i.e. over 100 times fainter than that of Wild 2. It is an impressive feat of the UT1 to observe such a faint object in such a short time and under these mediocre conditions.
Last Update: 1 September 2019
25-Jun-2024 14:09 UT

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