Image of the Month - June/July 2004

Another NEAT comet

Comet C/2001 Q4, one of 43 comets discovered by the NEAT asteroid survey, was found on images taken on 2001 August 24 with the Samuel Oschin Schmidt-telescope at the Palomar Observatory. Orbital calculations soon showed that the comet was then located at a record-breaking distance of 11.5 A.U. from the Sun (i.e., outside the obrit of Saturn), and that it wuld not reach perihelion before 2004.

Last month, comet C/2001 Q4 (NEAT) joined another comet, C/2002 T7 (LINEAR), so that, for observers in the southern hemisphere, two naked eye comets were visible simultaneously. While C/2002 T7 was not favorably placed for observers in the northern hemisphere, comet NEAT was visible in the evening sky trough most of May as seen from northern latitudes.

C/2001 Q4 (NEAT)
Credit & Copyright: Rafael Ferrando, Observatorio Astronomico Pla D'Arguines, Spain

The image of comet C/2001 Q4 (NEAT) shown here was taken by Rafael Ferrando at the Observatorio Astronomico Pla D'Arguines in Spain, using a SBIG ST-9 CCD camera on a 0.35m Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope operating at a focal ratio of f/4. Five exposures of one minute each were assembled to create this mosaic image, which shows impressive details in the comet's ion tail. More images of this comet, taken by Ferrando and other Spanish observers, can be seen on this web page.

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