SOHO sees its 750th comet

04/06/04

On 22 March 2004, the ESA/NASA SOHO solar observatory spacecraft discovered its 750th comet since its launch in December 1995.

SOHO comet 750 was discovered by the German amateur astronomer Sebastian Hönig, one of the most successful SOHO comet-hunters. It was a part of the Kreutz family of 'sungrazing' comets, which usually evaporate in the hot solar atmosphere.

The LASCO coronagraph on SOHO, designed for seeing outbursts from the Sun, uses a mask to block the bright rays from the visible surface. It monitors a large volume of surrounding space and, as a result, has become the most prolific 'discoverer' of comets in the history of astronomy. Its images are displayed on the internet.

More than 75% of the discoveries have come from amateur comet hunters around the world, watching these freely available SOHO images on the internet. So, anyone with internet access can take part in the hunt for new comets and be a 'comet discoverer'!

SOHO is a mission of international co-operation between ESA and NASA, launched in December 1995. Every day SOHO sends thrilling images from which research scientists learn about the Sun's nature and behaviour. Experts around the world use SOHO images and data to help them predict 'space weather' events affecting our planet.

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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