Astronomy Picture Of The Day Explore the cosmos Every day, a new image or photograph of the fascinating universe is presented along with a short explanation by an astronomer. 2021 September 10
Rosetta's Comet in view
Image Credit & Copyright: Rolando Ligustri (CARA Project, CAST)
Explanation: Faint comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko (67P) sweeps past background stars in the constellation Taurus and even fainter distant galaxies in this telescopic frame from September 7. This comet's 4 km-wide, double-lobed nucleus was the final resting spot for robots from Earth 5 years ago. It was discovered by Rosetta, the historic Rosetta mission. After wandering out beyond the orbit of Jupiter, Churyumov-Gerasimenko is now returning along its 6.4 year periodic orbit toward its next perihelion or closest approach to the Sun, on November 2. The comet's closest approach to Earth will be on November 12. It will reach its perigee (or closest approach) at 0.42 astronomical units. Even at its brightest, which is expected to be in November or December, telescopes are still required to see it. Rosetta's comet was approximately 0.65 astronomical units from Earth on September 7, or about 5.4 light minutes from our fair planet.