Ikeya-Murakami: The New Comet on the Cosmic Block (NASA, 11/17/10)
Editor's note: There's also a black-and-white movie of Ikeya-Murakami passing through pre-dawn skies on Nov. 13, located here: www.nasa.gov/topics/solarsystem/features/watchtheskies/ik...
This image is a video still from a short movie that captured the motion of Comet Ikeya-Murakami on Nov. 13, 2010. The image was gathered with a New Mexico-based telescope operated remotely by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center. At the time of this image, the comet was some 229 million miles away from Earth.
Comet Ikeya-Murakami was discovered very recently on Nov. 3, 2010, by Japanese amateur astronomers Kaoru Ikeya and Shigeki Murakami. Their discovery is unusual because they both used manual observations through optical telescopes to identify the comet. Such observation is rare in recent times when astronomers use cutting-edge digital imaging to study the skies.
Ikeya-Murakami is classified as a long-period comet, or those comets having eccentric orbits ranging from 200 years to millions of years to make one circuit around the sun.