During the month of December 2011, Comet C/2009 P1 (Garradd) was visible to observers in the Northern Hemisphere after sunset, and because of unusual geometry, it was also visible before dawn. This image was taken at about 6:15 am local time on the morning of December 30. This comet had been visible in the evening sky for months, but by the end of the year it began to drop lower and lower in the evening sky each day. However, at the same time that the comet was becoming more difficult to observe after sunset, the comet rose earlier each day before dawn, climbing higher in the morning sky as the year ended. Comet Garradd was rated at magnitude 6.8 at the time this image was taken, and was visible in binoculars under dark skies.
The comet's ion tail can be seen in this image extending to the left of the nucleus of the comet. The dust tail is visible stretching down below the nucleus. Earlier in the year, the two tails appeared together as a single comet tail from our perspective, but as the comet rounded the Sun, the ion tail and the dust tail began to diverge and spread farther apart as seen from our vantage point.
This comet was discovered by Gordon Garradd at Siding Spring, Australia in August 2009. This image was taken from my backyard in Scottsdale, Arizona, with an STL-11000M CCD using a Takahashi Epsilon 180ED telescope at f2.8.
RA: 17h 30m 40s Dec: +26d 24' 04"
December 30, 2011
Image by Sid Leach
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Description of equipment used to acquire images.
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