Late last week, the normally dim Comet 17P/Holmes suddenly blazed into view, increasing in brightness by a factor of a million. Before the eruption you needed a large telescope to see it, and now you can make it out with the unaided eye – even in the light-polluted city skies.
There are now many amateur and professional astronomers turning their gaze towards the newly brightened comet.
Eric Allen has been capturing images for several days, and stitched them together into an animation that shows the expanding coma. Even cooler, he compares it to Jupiter visually, so you can see just how big and bright it has gotten.
UK astronomers tuned in with the powerful Isaac Newton Telescope in La Palma, showing the fuzzy coma. They also tucked in an image of the Earth in the bottom corner, for scale.
Astronomers from the University of Montreal captured this image that seems to show that the comet has an actual tail.
Probably the best image I’ve seen was captured by Mario Motta from the Amateur Telescope Makers in Boston. His image shows what clearly looks like a jet, blasting off one side of the comet.
Still want more images? Space Weather has this enormous photo gallery of images of Comet 17P/Holmes.
Over the next few days/weeks, I’m sure some even bigger telescopes will be joining the fray, so stay tuned.