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Comet C/2020 T2 Palomar June 15-16, 2021

2021 June 30
by Russ

Comet C/2020 T2 (Palomar) moving through the constellation Bootes on the night of June 15, 2021. The animation covers a period of approximately 45 minutes. At the time these images were captured, the comet was moving across the sky at approximately 4 arcminutes per hour. The field of view is 13×10 arcminutes. North is up. East is left. More details below.

Comet C/2020 T2 (Palomar) was in the southwestern sky in June.  I was able to image it late in the evening of June 15th and into the early morning of June 16th.

This animated image shows C/2020 T2 Palomar as it crawled through a rather barren area in the constellation Bootes southwest of the bright star Arcturus.

If you notice a slight brightening of the background in the lower right quarter of the animation (southwest quadrant), you are seeing noise creep into the telescope’s field of view from a nearby crescent moon.  When these images were taken, the Moon was only five fist widths (50 degrees) southwest of the comet.  

During this pass through the inner solar system, C/2020 T2 (Palomar) isn’t showing a tail. All we can see of the comet is its coma, the diffuse cloud of gas and dust that enshrouds its tiny nucleus and keeps it hidden from view.

At the time of this image, the night of June 15-16, the comet’s brightness was being reported by various observers around the world as magnitude 10.5. This is approximately sixty times fainter than a bare eyeball can see from an extremely dark observing location.

Comet C/2020 T2 (Palomar) made its closest approach to Earth on May 12th, and will reach perihelion, closest approach to the Sun, on July 11th. After passing perihelion, the comet will recede from the Sun out into more distant areas of the solar system, well past the orbit of Pluto.

Note:

This animated sequence was captured with a Celestron C8 telescope (203mm f/10) and  F0.63 focal reducer, using a ZWO ASI224MC camera. Each of the eight images in the sequence is made up of a stack 10-23 sub-images, each exposed for 20-30 seconds.  The sequence was captured, live-stacked, and live-processed using SharpCap. The animation was created using GIMP.

 

 

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