Lovejoy comet or Christmas star?

As a Christmas present to the world, the Comet Lovejoy became the star of the season. Not only were beautiful photos taken of it but also an amazing time-lapse video was put together of the comet rising just before the sun. The video was the project of Gabriel Brammer of the long-tailed iceball rising from the horizon. Enjoy the photos and video below of this wonderful sight to behold.

What is Lovejoy?

C/2011 W3 "Lovejoy" is a periodic comet, classified as a Kreutz Sungrazer. It was discovered on 27 November 2011, by amateur astronomer Terry Lovejoy. The comet's perihelion took it through the Sun's corona on 16 December 2011 at 00:35 UTC, as it passed approximately 140,000 kilometres (87,000 mi) above the Sun's surface. It was not expected to survive the encounter, but the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), as well as other Sun-monitoring spacecraft, observed the comet emerge from the corona intact.

Before perihelion, the comet nucleus of Lovejoy was estimated to be between 100 and 200 metres (330 and 660 ft) in diameter, but after surviving perihelion it has been estimated that the nucleus was larger, as much as 500 m (1,600 ft) before the passage through the corona. At its brightest the comet had an apparent magnitude of around –4 (about as bright as the planet Venus). It is the brightest sungrazing comet ever observed by SOHO, and is the brightest comet to appear since Comet McNaught of 2007, which shone at visual magnitude –5.5. However, Lovejoy was largely invisible to the naked eye during its peak brightness as a result of its small nucleus and proximity to the Sun.

The comet first became visible to the STEREO-A spacecraft on 3 December, and to the SOHO spacecraft on 14 December. Before and after Lovejoy passed through perihelion, it was the subject of observation campaigns by eighteen instruments on six satellites: STEREO-A and -B, SOHO, SDO, Hinode and PROBA2. It again became visible to ground based telescopes on 17 December. In the Southern Hemisphere, Lovejoy was a naked eye object around 21 December.
Source: Wikipedia

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