The approach of Comet
73P, May 2006
also known as Schwassmann-Wachmann 3, is a periodic comet in our
solar system which is in the process of disintegrating.
It has an orbital period of slightly less than 5 1/3 years so
that it comes nearest to the Earth every 16 years. In 1995, 73P
fell apart. The comet's nucleus split into many "mini-comets".
On May 12, 13 and 14, 2006 the fragments were passing the Earth
closer than any comet has come in more than twenty years.
fragment was about six million miles away, thats twenty-five
times farther than the Moon. In 2022, the comet fragments are
expected to pass nearer to the Earth than in 2006.
20 images of fragment B of the comet 73P
taken sequentially with a time interval of 108 secs through the
R filter with 20 sec exposure time were combined to produce this
animation. It shows the motion of the comet relative to the background
stars. The sequence spans a time interval from UTC 23:47 May 10
to UTC 00:05 May 11 2006.
The Skinakas Observatory
Telescopes was watching and taking pictures of the mini-comets.
All images were
taken with the Skinakas Observatory 30cm Schmit telescope during the
night 09-10 May 2006.The telescope was tracking at sidereal rate. The
raw images were taken with the Photometrics (Roper Scientific) CCD camera
CH260, which was cryogenically cooled to -115 degrees Celsius. The filters
used were standard Johnson B, V and Johnson-Cousins R. Weather conditions
were not ideal - non-photometric night - and the sky was relatively
bright ( moon was
close to full).
The images were fully reduced (bias subtracted and flat-fielded) with
the ESO-MIDAS and IRAF astronomical software.
The processing was done using the MaximDL (Diffraction Limited) and
Photoshop (Adobe). The intensity scale in all images is logarithmic
while the linear scale of the images is 4.125 arcseconds per pixel.
In all images North is up and East to the left.
images of fragment C of the comet 73P taken sequentially with a time
interval of 108 secs through the R filter with 20 sec exposure time
were combined to produce this animation. It shows the motion of the
comet relative to the background stars. The sequence spans a time interval
from UTC 01:00 May 11 to UTC 01:18 May 11 2006.
See the flyby history
until now, updated daily http://www.skyhound.com/sh/73P.html