Help Shape the Future of Space Exploration

Join The Planetary Society Now  arrow.png

Join our eNewsletter for updates & action alerts

    Please leave this field empty
The Bruce Murray Space Image Library

Comet ISON's perihelion from the STEREO spacecraft

Filed under pretty pictures, comets, amateur image processing, the Sun, animation, solar observing spacecraft

Go Back

This animation includes images captured by STEREO Ahead on November 28 and 29. STEREO Ahead precedes Earth in its orbit. It happened to have a view on the comet almost directly perpendicular to the plane of the comet's orbit, the only spacecraft with such a perspective. As the comet approached the Sun, it was slightly in front of the Sun as seen from STEREO, so its tail was bright, its dust scattering light toward the spacecraft. As it departed, it was behind the Sun, at a significantly lower phase angle, so appeared dimmer. As time went on, the viewing geometry grew less favorable as the comet drew farther from the Sun, so it faded rapidly.

NASA / STEREO / Emily Lakdawalla

Here is the view from STEREO B.

This animation includes images captured by STEREO Behind on November 27, 28, and 29. STEREO Behind lags behind Earth in its orbit. As the comet approached the Sun, it was moving almost directly toward STEREO, so it appeared to be moving very slowly and its tail is relatively dim (compared to views from other spacecraft) because we are seeing it at a low phase angle, in reflected sunlight. After perihelion, the comet's direction of motion was at least initially almost entirely in the plane of the photo, so it appeared to be moving very fast, and the comet was also between the Sun and the camera, so its coma and tail were extremely bright due to forward scattering of light by the dust. As time went on, the viewing geometry grew less favorable as the comet drew farther from the Sun, so it faded rapidly.

Credit: NASA / STEREO / Emily Lakdawalla

Copyright holder: Emily Lakdawalla

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Contact us to request publication permission from the copyright holder. Original image data dated on or about November 29, 2013

 

Other Related Images

Comments:

Leave a Comment:

You must be logged in to submit a comment. Log in now.

Space in Images

Pretty pictures and
awe-inspiring science.

See More

Join the New Millennium Committee

Let’s invent the future together!

Become a Member

Connect With Us

Facebook! Twitter! Google+ and more…
Continue the conversation with our online community!