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Comet Wirtanen observed from Paranal | by Juan-Carlos Munoz-Mateos
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Comet Wirtanen observed from Paranal

Comet 46P/Wirtanen observed simultaneously with the UT2 and UT3 telescopes at Paranal Observatory. The comet is the turquoise fuzzy blob to the top of the image. UT2 is the large dome at the foreground, and UT3 the one right behind it. The small dome in the background is the VST telescope.


When I took this shot the comet was being observed simultaneously with two high-resolution spectrographs: UVES, at UT2, and ESPRESSO, at UT3 (ESPRESSO can be fed with light from any of the four UT telescopes we have, or even all four at once). These spectrographs separate the light of the comet into its constituent wavelengths, allowing us to decipher its chemical composition.


Canon 6D + Rokinon 24 mm f/2, 20 secs, ISO 3200. Edited in Lightroom and Affinity Photo

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Taken on December 8, 2018