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Saturday, April 22

Comet Schwassmann-Wachmann cracks up before our eyes!

I took advantage of the first clear night for ages to take a look at Comet 73P Schwassmann-Wachmann last night which broke into several fragments in 1995 and is making a close pass of earth over the next couple of months.
A few days ago fragment B was reported to have brightened considerably. It is now clear from this image taken with my telescope and modified webcam that the fragment has now broken up further into two roughly equal chunks. (The false colour image is magnified x2 and coloured to show the "double head" more clearly. The narrow streaks around the comet are background stars trailed by the long exposure as the comet rushes across the field of view)
With any luck the two brightest fragments B and C will brighten sufficiently to be easily seen in binoculars over the next few weeks but as we have just seen, comets can be unpredictable!


  1. That's really impressive. Thanks for that Robin. For those keen to try and find the comet yourself check out Stuart's post on Cumbrian Sky.

  2. Anonymous9:40 pm

    VERY impressive pic Robin, well done! Get it sent in to Spaceweather.com! :-)