Comet Holmes

Thursday, October 25, 2007
10:28 - 10:33 pm EDT
Philips ToUcam Pro (640x480)
Owl Observatory - Kalamazoo Nature Center
12" LX200 Schmidt-Cassegrain
Images acquired with IRIS. RegiStax 4.0 aligned and stacked 1,357 of 2,100 images (from two separate AVI files).  Further enhancements made with Adobe Photoshop 7.0
Comet Holmes, discovered by English amateur astronomer Edwin Holmes in November 1892, was making a quiet return to the inner solar system until October 24, 2007.  A dramatic eruption occurred, sending out vast amounts of dust and gas from the icy nucleus.  The comet increased from approximately 18 to 2.5 magnitude; a factor of about one million!  The nucleus is hidden deep within the star-like point in the center of the fuzzy coma seen here.  Below and to the right of the nucleus is a fan-shaped feature - possibly a jet emanating from the comet's surface.  At the time, the comet was located between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter so no tail was visible.