New Comet Leonard Views from NASA’s Two Space Solar Observatories

(ORDO NEWS) — When Leonard’s comet – a massive body of cosmic dust, rocks and ice and has a diameter of about one kilometer – comes as close as possible to the Sun on January 3, 2022, two spacecraft will observe its passage near our star, continuously monitoring By the sun. To date, these two NASA solar observatories have already captured these comet views.

The image on the right was captured by NASA’s Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory-A, equipped with a telescope called SECCHI / HI-2, which has been observing the comet since early November. This “difference snapshot” was obtained by subtracting the current frame from the previous frame taken earlier in time to emphasize the changes that have occurred. This was necessary to observe subtle changes in the structure of the ionic tail of Comet Leonard, which becomes longer and brighter over time.

The video below, captured between December 17 and 19, 2021, using the Solar Orbiter Heliospheric Imager (SoloHI) instrument aboard NASA / ESA’s Solar Orbiter satellite, shows Comet Leonard as it passes the camera’s field of view diagonally against the background of the Milky Way…

Venus and Mercury are also visible at the top right of the image, with Venus looking brighter and moving from left to right. During these surveys, the Solar Orbiter observatory decreased the angle at which the comet was observed, resulting in an apparent elongation of its tail. The SoloHI instrument continued to observe the comet until it left its field of view on December 22, 2021.

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