A comet in the footsteps of the runaway star

C/2020 M3 and the nebulae of Auriga
gallery/c2020m3atlas_ic405_ic410_terkep
gallery/c2020m3atlas_ic405_ic410_2400_v2_w_an

Date:

10/12/2020 03:40-04:54 UT

Total exposure time:

39 minutes

Location:

iTelescope - T14, New Mexico, USA

Camera:

SBIG STL-11000M

Telescope:

Takahashi FSQ-ED 106/530 mm

Mount:

Paramount GT-1100S

Guiding:

Autoguiding

Corrector:

-

Focal ratio, length:

f/5, 530 mm

Light:

4 x 180 s Lum, 3 x 180 s R, 3 x 180 s G, 3 x 180 s B

Dark:

Calibrated

Flat:

Calibrated

Bias:

Calibrated

Processing:

Astro Pixel Processor, PixInsight, Adobe Lightroom, Adobe Photoshop

Location

Annotation

Animation

gallery/c2020m3atlas_ic405_ic410_ss

Location in the Solar System

C/2020 M3 (ATLAS) and the
Nebulae of Auriga (Robotic)

Main objects: C/2020 M3 (ATLAS), IC 405, IC 410, ngc 1893, Ae aurigae

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 is the AE Aurigae star, 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.

Name:

C/2020 M3 (ATLAS)

Constellation:

Orion

Coordinates:

R.A. 05 h 20 m 30 s Dec. +34° 14′ 07″

Type:

Comet

Distance from Sun: 

215 million km

Distance from Earth:

68 million km

Apparent size:

Coma: 8'; Tail: 15' (PA 250°)

Brightness:

8.9m

Sidereal period:

138.9 years

Velocity:

35 km/s

Elongation:

168o