Comets criss-cross near the Sun (October 7, 2004)
Hi-res TIF image (5.7M).
The paths of two comets cross each other this week, a rare sight for SOHO. On 5 October 2004 Comet ASAS, as predicted by astronomers, appeared in the SOHO LASCO instrument's field of view.
Though not very bright, its slightly arcing path will carry it quite close (visually that is since the comet is actually rather far from the Sun) to the Sun on Oct. 7 and out of SOHO's sight by 10 Oct. It is expected to brighten some as it nears the Sun and scientists will be watching closely to see how the heat from the Sun and pressure from the solar wind will affect it.
The LASCO C2 instrument's field of view is narrower with greater magnification so objects in it appear larger. It should be visible there sometime on October 7 (see SOHO's Latest Images page). In the mean time, Comet Linear (K4), though quite small and hard to see, appeared on Sept. 28th and is heading on a path below the Sun. They appear fairly close together on Oct. 6.
While these comets were initially discovered by ground-based telescopes, SOHO has discovered over 850 comets.It should be mentioned as well that more than 75% of the discoveries have come from amateur comet hunters around the world, watching these freely available SOHO images on the internet.
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.
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