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Absolutely Spectacular Photos of Comet Lovejoy from the Space Station

Comet Lovejoy on 22 Dec. 2011 from the International Space Station. Comet Lovejoy is visible near Earth’s horizon in this nighttime image photographed by NASA astronaut Dan Burbank, Expedition 30 commander, onboard the International Space Station on Dec. 22, 2011. Credit: NASA/Dan Burbank
More Comet Lovejoy photos below

Check out this absolutely stunning collection of new Comet Lovejoy photos taken by space station commander Dan Burbank just before the Christmas holidays on Dec. 22, 2011 – what an amazing holiday treat, the Chrtistmas Comet!

Burbank shot these exquisitely detailed nighttime images showing the comet near the Earth’s horizon and framed with a gorgeously rich star field, all while floating aboard the International Space Station (ISS) some 400 kilometers (250 miles) above all of us – and absent any atmospheric interferences and distortions !

Burbank is a NASA astronaut and commander of ISS Expedition 30.

The comet has put on a spectacular show for observers in the Earth’s southern hemisphere despite prognostications of a fiery death as it careened through the suns corona during perihelion on Dec. 16 at a distance of 140,000 kilometers (87,000 mi).

Astronaut Burbank launched to the ISS on Nov. 13 along with Russian cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Anatoly Ivanishin aboard the Soyuz TMA-22 capsule from the Baikonur Cosmosdrome. The trio docked on Nov. 16 for a more than 4 month stay.

Comet Lovejoy was only discovered on 27 November 2011, by Australian amateur astronomer Terry Lovejoy and classified as a Kreutz sungrazer. It has put on an unexpected and magnificent Christmas Comet holiday show.

Burbank first caught an accidental glimpse of Comet Lovejoy on Dec. 21 and snapped an initial set of beautiful comet photos from the Cupola observation dome aboard the ISS.

And – there’s still time to create an Asteroid Vesta themed winter holiday greeting card, here

Prelaunch photo of Soyuz-TMA-22/Expedition 29/30 crew - NASA astronaut Dan Burbank and Russian cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Anatoly Ivanishin Credit: Roscosmos


Dr. Ken Kremer is a speaker, research scientist, freelance science journalist (Princeton, NJ) and photographer whose articles, space exploration images and Mars mosaics have appeared in magazines, books, websites and calendars including Astronomy Picture of the Day, NBC, BBC, SPACE.com, Spaceflight Now and the covers of Aviation Week & Space Technology, Spaceflight and the Explorers Club magazines. Ken has presented at numerous educational institutions, civic & religious organizations, museums and astronomy clubs. Ken has reported first hand from the Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, NASA Wallops, NASA Michoud/Stennis/Langley and on over 40 launches including 8 shuttle launches. He lectures on both Human and Robotic spaceflight - www.kenkremer.com. Follow Ken on Facebook and Twitter

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Be Well December 26, 2011, 5:32 AM

    Will the comet be visible from the Northern hemisphere at all? thank you –

    • Baksa Péter December 26, 2011, 7:21 AM

      I think it will, unless it has a very tilted orbit. But will it still have a tail?

    • Anonymous December 26, 2011, 4:55 PM

      Un-for-tuna-nettly… No, this comet is not presently visible from the N. Hemisphere. Drat… was hoping… cuz this would have been comet number 46 for me!

  • Anonymous December 26, 2011, 9:00 AM

    My envy of astronauts has reached a new high .

  • Anonymous December 26, 2011, 4:00 PM

    I was sitting outside at about 6:10 central time. Out of the corner of my eye there was this flash, like someone took a picture at my side, it was so bright. Then I swung around and seen a 10% tail. It lasted about 10 seconds before it faded away. It was awosome.

  • Anonymous December 26, 2011, 11:12 PM

    Gods spender is so mind blowing!

    • Anonymous January 4, 2012, 7:06 PM

      It sure is! Parden my outburst towards Tor Lar.. I just had to respend to his almighty knowing mind. Good for you for having the guts to admire Gods work. I sure do. God Bless you :-)… .