Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.
2009 March 7
Explanation: Now fading in our night sky, Comet Lulin has provided some lovely cosmic vistas. Moving rapidly against the background of stars, Lulin briefly posed with the likes of Saturn, and Regulus (Alpha Leo). But here it is seen against a field of distant galaxies. To reveal the faint background galaxies and trace the comet's fading tail, the remarkable picture is a blended composite of telescopic exposures aligned with the both the stars and the speedy comet. The largest galaxies seen left of the comet's head or coma are catalogued as NGC 3016, NGC 3019, NGC 3020 and NGC 3024 and lie at a distance of 100 million light-years or so. When the exposures were made, on February 28, the comet was about 3.6 light-minutes from Earth.
Authors & editors:
Jerry Bonnell (UMCP)
NASA Official: Phillip Newman Specific rights apply.
A service of: ASD at NASA / GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.