Close encounters of the cometary kind

Posted by David Eicher
on Thursday, September 1, 2011

Several of you who were at star parties over the past few days commented to me about how cool it was to see Comet Garradd slide past the rich globular cluster M71 in Sagitta, a close encounter that occurred on the evening of Saturday, August 27. C/2009 P1 (Garradd), as it’s officially known, was discovered by Australian astronomer Gordon Garradd and has been making a show in the evening sky, currently shining at magnitude 8.2 and well-placed for observing.

Credit: John Chumack
The energetic Ohio astroimager John Chumack — who is always out there capturing images, it seems! — created a great set of pictures of the comet with M71, a still image, and two movies showing the encounter.

I am reproducing those here and think you’ll enjoy them. And get out there and look at the comet while you can! It’s quite nice in a telescope and even respectable in binoculars.

You can send images and observations to and to our photo editor Michael Bakich at



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