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A Comet Streaker! (January 6, 2006)


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This week SOHO observed a nice, bright example of a Kreutz-group comet, also a sun-grazing comet that appears to dive right into the Sun. An amateur comet hunter, Tony Hoffman, spotted it just before midnight (EST) in the coronagraph C3 images on January 3, 2005 when it was a tiny speck of light, barely above the background noise level! It's his 63rd SOHO comet. As it approached the Sun, over the two and a half days that we could see it, its tail become more and more elongated.

By SOHO Kreutz standards, it's one of the brighter ones we've seen! Kreutz comets are a family of comets that we often spot passing near the Sun. These groups are the result of fragmentation of the "parent bodies" near perihelion (the closest approach to the Sun). Unofficially, we are calling SOHO-1087 as it is the 1,087th comet found using SOHO data. It's SOHO's 912th Kreutz comet discovery and SOHO's 2nd discovery of 2006. It disappears from view around 16:18 UT on Jan. 5.

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SOHO began its Weekly Pick some time after sending a weekly image or video clip to the American Museum of Natural History (Rose Center) in New York City. There, the SOHO Weekly Pick is displayed with some annotations on a large plasma display.

If your institution would also like to receive the same Weekly Pick from us for display (usually in Photoshop or QuickTime format), please send your inquiry to steele.hill@gsfc.nasa.gov.

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