Comet Pan-STARRS peaked in brightness last March and is now constantly fading, while on its route back in the outer Solar System. At that time visible soon after the sunset, it is now circumpolar for many northern observers and better visible before sunrise.
After a long cloudy period, tghe sky was finally above the Virtual Telescope and the PlaneWave 17 robotic unit was asked to visit comet Pan-STARRS while it was about 25 degrees above the horizon. While so low, the images turned out very nice.
Above is the average of 12 unfiltered images, each integrated for 90 seconds, with the Paramount ME mount tracking the apparent motion of the body. The image scale is 1.2″/pixel and the comet shows a very beautiful, large tail, displaying its typical shape.
Below is a different vision: the same image as above was processed using a 15 deg. rotational gradient, to extract any potentially structure with a rotational distribution. This technique, is carefully used, can show jest and other subtle features. Here you can see there are some possible jets.
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