Have you ever wondered what it would be like to step into space and have a look at solar system objects in aspect? While we can view interesting and inspiring events like Comet Lulin’s recent conjunction with Saturn, what we can’t quite get our brains to wrap around it how it would appear in dimension. Thanks to some “magic” by Jukka Metsavainio and some of his own outstanding astrophotography – now we can…
Like all our our “stereo” image produced for UT by Jukka Metsavainio, two versions are presented here. The one above is parallel vision – where you relax your eyes and when you are a certain distance from the monitor screen the two images will merge into one to produce a 3D version. The second – which appears below – is crossed vision. This is for those who have better success crossing their eyes to form a third, central image where the dimensional effect occurs. In this case, Jukka had the opportunity to photograph Comet Lulin during its recent conjuntion with Saturn and he was willing to share the view in a visualization of how the pair would have appeared in binoviewers – or if you were able to see them with both eyes from space! Ready to get crossed? Then let’s go….
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After having just viewed Comet Lulin a few hours before seeing this image, I knew I just had to share. Thanks to the comet’s unique position along our ecliptic plane, the pleasure of catching it in the eyepiece with other telescopic objects isn’t over yet. For observers in the United States, on March 6, this Thursday evening, Comet Lulin will pass 2 degrees south of the Beehive Star Cluster, M44. On Saturday, March 14, Lulin will pass only 15 arc minutes (half the moon’s apparent diameter) away from the Eskimo Nebula, NGC 2392. But don’t think you have to live in the US to see it!
As with all conjunction events, your position and timing on Earth will play an important role on where the comet will appear in relation to the object. For example, for observers in the UK, Lulin may be to M44’s southeast – while the west coast of Canada will see it to the southwest. The same is true of latitude as well – your variation here on Earth will give an equal variation on Comet Lulin’s positon against the celestial sphere. But, don’t go crazy trying to worry about its exact position. Two degrees is a lot of sky and chances are no matter when you view on March 6, you’ll catch it in (or near) the same binocular field as the Beehive.
In the meantime? Enjoy this incredible look at Comet Lulin and Saturn… It’s a tasty treat!