Comet Lulin made its closest approach to earth on February 24, 2009, at a distance of 0.41 a.u. (61 million kilometers). The comet had just rounded the Sun, and a jet shooting out from the nucleus of the comet is visible in this image. The comet was hidden in the glare of the Sun during November and December, and in early January 2009 began to appear in the early morning sky just before dawn. Each day the comet appeared brighter and climbed higher in the southeastern sky, until the date this image was taken as it reached its minimum distance from planet earth. Comet Lulin will not return again for more than a thousand years.
This comet was discovered by a 19 year-old student at Sun Yat-sen University in mainland China, on images taken by Chi Sheng Lin at the National Central University in Taiwan on the night of July 11, 2007. The year 2007 was a record year for comet discoveries, with a total of 223 comets being discovered during that year.
This image is a color composite RGB CCD image taken with an STL-11000M CCD using a Takahashi Epsilon 180ED telescope at f2.8. The image was taken from the Mount Lemmon SkyCenter.
RA: 11h 15m 21s Dec: +04d 52' 16" (J2009.2)
February 24, 2009
Image by Sid Leach
Mount Lemmon, Arizona
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