Comet Pan-STARRS slices through the night sky like a bright blade of light in this stunning image by an amateur astronomer.
Skywatcher Joseph Brimacombe captured this comet photo on May 23 from New Mexico using a FSQ 10.6-cm and STL11K camera at 10h 07m UT (mid-point). The image was taken in a single 30-minute exposure.
In this image, the comet Pan-STARRS’ anti-tail can be seen stretching to the right. The anti-tail is one of the three tails that appears to come from a comet as it passes close to the sun. It’s called the anti-tail because, when viewed from Earth, it appears to project from the comet’s coma (or head) toward the sun. This makes it opposite to the other tails of the comet, the ion and dust tails
Comet Pan-STARRS, named after a telescope in Hawaii, is thought to have an elliptical orbit around the sun that creates an 110,000-year path. The comet was discovered in June 2011 by astronomers using the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (Pan-STARRS), a telescope that searches for near-Earth objects from a perch atop Haleakala volcano in Hawaii. The comet is officially known as comet C/2011 L4 Pan-STARRS.