10/12/2020 03:40-04:54 UT
Total exposure time:
iTelescope - T14, New Mexico, USA
Takahashi FSQ-ED 106/530 mm
Focal ratio, length:
f/5, 530 mm
4 x 180 s Lum, 3 x 180 s R, 3 x 180 s G, 3 x 180 s B
Astro Pixel Processor, PixInsight, Adobe Lightroom, Adobe Photoshop
On June 27, 2020, an unknown object with a brightness of only 18.8 magnitude was discovered by the Asteroid Terrestrial-Impact Last Alert System program. The comet, later named C/2020 M3 (ATLAS), was then about 260 million kilometers away from our central star.
On October 25, 2020, at the time of its perihelion, or proximity to the Sun, it was 1.3 AU from the Sun, but thanks to its orbit, it only arrived proximity to the Earth after that. Its brightness increased steadily as a result, but it didn’t look really spectacular. In the first half of November 2020, a green round coma of about 10' diameter was observed. The comet arrived in an increasingly exciting area of the sky. After approaching the most beautiful area of the constellation Orion, the already fading comet continued its celestial journey in the constellation Auriga in December.
The comet passed between IC 405 or also known as Flaming Star Nebula and IC 410. Both objects are emission nebulaes, the latter also containing an open cluster (NGC 1893). The name of the Flaming Star Nebula comes from the star AE Aurigae, which was probably ejected from the Orion Nebula and has now interacted with the IC 405 material. When you think about it, the comet seemed to follow the path of the runaway star!
As a teacher, I often choose robotic images from my apartment in the capital during the school year, but during the pandemic, I was left with only that opportunity. When I have to use a robotic telescope, I always try to create something unique. In recent years in Hungary, the cloudy weather is characterized by December. Unfortunately, in 2020, this was not only the case in December, but also in the previous weeks. In the absence of a robot telescope, it would have been impossible to capture this wonderful conjunction from Hungary.
Due to the short focal length, I chose relatively longer exposure times when determining the exposures. The comet's gas tail became invisible from its state a month ago, while the dus tail became more pronounced. The marked green color of the coma indicates the presence of diatomic carbon molecules.
C/2020 M3 (ATLAS)
R.A. 05 h 20 m 30 s Dec. +34° 14′ 07″
Distance from Sun:
215 million km
Distance from Earth:
68 million km
Coma: 8'; Tail: 15' (PA 250°)