Illustration for article titled Comet Garrard gets lost among 10,000 stars

Comet Garrard is blasting through the northern sky. Of course, it's easy to lose track of one little comet when it's passing through a giant star cluster. But no matter: you just have to look for the brightest, greenest one.


The comet - designated C/2009 P1, if you're feeling technical, has been slowly moving through the northern sky for months now, getting slowly brighter all the time. That's a very good thing, considering we'd otherwise risk losing it completely in this massive field of stars. A NASA astronomer explains:

Last week the comet, visible with binoculars and discernible by its green coma, passed nearly in front of globular cluster M71. M71 was once thought to be an open cluster, but is now known to be an older globular cluster containing over 10,000 stars. The photogenic duo was captured with a standard digital camera in a 10-minute, wide-angle exposure toward the northern constellation of the Arrow (Sagitta). The stars Sham (alpha Sagittae), beta Sagittae, gamma Sagittae, and the double star delta Sagittae are all visible in a diagonal band running down from the upper left. Comet C/2009 P1 (Garradd), will remain visible in northern skies for months and will reach its closest approach to the Sun in December.


You can check out a bunch more photos of Comet Garrard right here.


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