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Emily LakdawallaDecember 27, 2011

Lovely Lovejoy pictures

Catching up from a few days' vacation over Christmas, here's a quick post with just a few of the amazing photos of Comet Lovejoy that have been taken from the southern hemisphere over the last few days. Comet Lovejoy is the first Kreutz sungrazer to have been discovered from the ground in 40 years, and after its surprising survival of its passage close to the Sun, it has been putting on a spectacular show in southern skies.

First, a beautiful photo suitable for a desktop background from the European Southern Observatory's Paranal site on December 22. It's part of a time-lapse sequence, which I've embedded below.

Comet Lovejoy over Paranal

Gabriel Brammer / ESO

Comet Lovejoy over Paranal
This photo comes from a time-lapse sequence taken as comet Lovejoy rose over the European Southern Observatory's Paranal site on December 22, 2011.

Here's a lovely one from Robert McNaught in southern Australia:

Comet Lovejoy by Robert McNaught

Robert McNaught

Comet Lovejoy by Robert McNaught
Captured on December 23 from southern Australia. More photos are available on the Siding Spring Observatory website.

The comet's tail continues to grow, but it is also fading dramatically as it recedes from the Sun. Reports on its changing magnitude are being summarized in graphical form by Seiichi Yoshida.

Comet Lovejoy grows and fades

Rob Kaufman, from photos by Lester Barnes, Justin Tilbrook, Trevor Barry, and Jeanette Dunphy

Comet Lovejoy grows and fades
As comet Lovejoy receded from the Sun over December 22-26, its tail spread out across the Milky Way and the comet itself faded. This composite shows all the images at the same scale.

To keep up with the latest on Lovejoy, monitor the comets-ml mailing list or the Lovejoy thread on I'll close with one of the fabulous images being taken by the astronauts aboard the space station.

Comet Lovejoy from the Space Station


Comet Lovejoy from the Space Station
Comet Lovejoy is visible near Earth's horizon in this nighttime image photographed by NASA astronaut Dan Burbank, Expedition 30 commander, onboard the International Space Station on Dec. 22, 2011.

Read more: pretty pictures, comets, astrophoto (photo of space taken from ground), International Space Station

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Emily Lakdawalla

Solar System Specialist for The Planetary Society
Read more articles by Emily Lakdawalla

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