Comet C/2017 E4 Lovejoy: an image on perihelion date (23 Apr. 2017)

At last, comet C/2017 E4 Lovejoy reached its perihelion on 23 Apr. 2017 at 07:26 UT. Four hours later, we captured this image while it was only 6 degrees high, above the NE horizon.

Comet C/2017 E4 Lovejoy at perihelion: 23 Apr. 2017

Comet C/2017 E4 Lovejoy at perihelion: 23 Apr. 2017

The image above comes from the average of five , 60-seconds exposures, unfiltered, remotely taken with the 16″-f/3.75 Tenagra III (“Pearl”) robotic unit part of Tenagra Observatories in Arizona. The telescope tracked the apparent motion of the comet. The imaging camera is based on the KAF-16801 CCD, used in 2×2 binning. The resulting image scale is 2.4″/pixel. The comet was VERY low above the NE horizon, at about 6 degrees, after the beginning of the morning twilight. Images show a condensation in the comet’s head. The disruption of the comet is evident.

The observatory hosting the telescope is placed at 1300 meters above the sea level, in the Sonoran desert, providing one of the best skies in the world. This image is the first one coming from a cooperation between the Virtual Telescope Project and Tenagra Observatories, Ltd., which will be announced soon.

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