Comet C/2001 Q4 (NEAT)

Comet C/2001 Q4 (NEAT) Suddenly brightened while approximately 0.98 AU (astronomical Unit 93,000,000 miles) from the Sun. Unfortunately it was near the moon and it was difficult getting a long exposure. The past 10-12 years have been great for comets and many have brightened enough to be visible with the naked eye or binoculars. Unfortunately for observers in Oregon, the cloudy skies make them very elusive. This comet hit a total magnitude of 2.5, not to be confused with magnitude of a star whose brightness forms a point. The magnitude of non-stellar objects refer to their total overall brightness which is spread out over a much larger area of the sky. Therefore most comets and deep sky objects are not very bright.

Comets are objects formed of ice and debris when our solar system was being formed. The blue Ionic tail is readily visible and protrudes directly opposite the the sun. The tail of a comet is material from the comet as it is heated by the sun and is ejected from the comet. The solar wind aids in this process and the resulting gas & debris is illuminated by the sun. The tail points away from the sun while the head is pointed towards the sun as it orbits the Sun and then heads back into the deep reaches of our solar system, past Pluto and out into the Ort cloud. The particles from comet tails stay in space and when Earth passes through the space that a comet once transgressed we have a meteor shower. The major meteor showers we see are the small particles left from comets that crash into "Earths atmosphere" at high velocities.
 
Telescope / Lens 100mm f/2.8 Camera Lens
Mount Type Piggyback on G11 (Stepper)
Camera Canon F-1 with Bright Screen & Angle B magnifier
 Filters 72mm UV
 Film  Kodak E200 (Slide Film)
 Exposure 6 minutes; manual guiding FS/78
 Processing Push I, Scanned - Nikon 5000ED 4000 dpi, Photoshop CS2
 Date  5/24/2004
 Location Panther Creek 1/2 miles East of Wolf Creek Road, south of Veneta, Oregon
 Conditions 1200' magnitude 5.0 Skies; Clear, right after sunset, Partial Moon 29.97%

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