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Comet Holmes (17P)

 

Comet Holmes is a very unusual comet, having almost no tail but a very large, spherical halo. First discovered in 1892, it has now returned to the inner solar system. Recovered just a few months ago, it brightened extremely rapidly from extremely dim to naked-eye visibility, around magnitude 2.5; then almost as rapidly began to dim again. It is now about 2 astronomical units (1 au = radius of Earth's orbit) from the sun. I captured it as it was fading, at only magnitude 17.2, on 18 November 2007 from my site in Sonoma County, California. It has been in the constellation Perseus during most of the time and here we see it next to (and overlaid on)  Mirfak, one of the brighter stars in Perseus.

The image below shows just the brighter center of the comet, with the nucleus indicated.

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