Saturday, 12 October 2013

Ison GIF from NASA's STEREO-A spacecraft

Is animated GIF is of comet Ison comes from the NASA Comet Ison Observing Campaign and was taken by NASA's STEREO-A spacecraft using the SECCHI HI-2 camera. STEREO-A is is now the 7th spacecraft to view Ison and will continue to observe her right through to January.

The image is made up from photo's taken on the 10th and 11th of October and was put together by Karl at the CIOC. Karl is very critical of his work but we're sure you'll agree he did an excellent job!

Ison can be seen between the red lines. Ison GIF by Karl of the CIOC taken by the STEREO-A 

Explaining the GIF Karl said:
"Obviously comet ISON appears very small right now, as it is a long distance from the spacecraft, and the pixels in that image are very big. By that, I mean that each pixel of the image actually contains a fairly significant chunk of sky. By my very rough estimates based on previous experience with comets in that camera, I'd say ISON is somewhere around mag 10 -- which is more-or-less what ground observers are beginning to see, too. Also visible in the image are lots of bright blobs -- those are stars. Finally, that funny wedge-shaped thing is something we placed in the instrument field of view for early during the STEREO mission (back in 2007-ish) when the Earth was in the field of view and would have blinded the camera if not for that little wedge. "

NASA's STEREO spacecraft

The CIOC are still processing the data from the STEREO-A mission and are hoping to release more pictures in the next few days. In addition to the STEREO-A spacecraft there is also a STEREO-B craft and ISON should becoming in to it's view in a few weeks! 
NASA's STEREO Mission was launched in 2006 to study coronal mass ejections from the Sun. The mission consists of 2 craft A and B, one craft travels ahead of Earths orbit while the other follows. STEREO stands for Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory and both craft are fitted with an extreme ultraviolet imager, two white-light coronagraphs and a heliospheric imager.

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