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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.