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Comet Lovejoy blazes trail across Chilean sky

Wednesday, January 04, 2012 - 01:02

Jan. 4 - The recently discovered Comet Lovejoy has been captured in stunning time-lapse video taken from the Paranal Observatory in Chile as it blazed a trail across the southern sky on December 22, 2011. The video was made public this week. The comet had just unexpectedly survived a close encounter with the Sun before astronomers at the observatory spotted it flying overhead. Rob Muir reports.

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Comet Lovejoy made its appearance over Chile just before dawn, a blaze of light millions of kilometres long, streaking over the horizon. With the moon rising on the left of screen, and the milky-way as a backdrop, the comet appeared by surprise, having just survived a close encounter with Sun during its orbit through the solar system. The time-lapse video was taken by Gabriel Brammer after he finished his shift as support astronomer at the Paranal Observatory. The comet was named after Terry Lovejoy, the Australian amateur astronomer who discovered it just three weeks before. When International Space Station Commander Dan Burbank saw it he called Comet Lovejoy "the most amazing thing I have ever seen in space". If it survives its journey intact, astronomers say Lovejoy will be back in 314 years Rob Muir, Reuters.

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Comet Lovejoy blazes trail across Chilean sky

Wednesday, January 04, 2012 - 01:02