cosmic portrait recorded October 9th features
the lovely blue-green
of Comet SWAN posing
with spiral galaxy
NGC 5005 in the
At the time the comet (center) was in the close
foreground, a mere 9 light-minutes from planet Earth,
with the galaxy a more substantial 60 million light-years distant.
Not actually related to a bird, Comet SWAN
was so named as it was first spotted in image data from the
SWAN (Solar Wind ANisotropies) camera aboard the
sun-staring SOHO spacecraft.
Having rounded the Sun,
this comet is headed for interstellar space, but first it will make
its closest approach to Earth on October 24.
With binoculars, northern hemisphere observers can now
the comet above the northwestern horizon,
near the handle of the Big Dipper in the
early evening sky.