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The Great "Birthday Comet" of 2011

Comet Lovejoy
SOHO's 16th Birthday gift is on it's way, and the tracking number states delivery by midnight on December 15th!

On December 2nd, 2011, newly discovered Kreutz-group comet C/2011 W3 (Lovejoy) was announced. SOHO discovers these objects on average every three days, but this one is different... it was found from a ground based telescope, and marks the first such discovery in over 40yrs. It also marks a significant achievement for Australian astronomer Terry Lovejoy, who as an early pioneer of discovering SOHO comets over the internet, can now claim to be the first person to discover a Sungrazer from both ground and space-based telescopes!

Traditionally, and with little exception, ground-discovered Kreutz-group comets have gotten bright. Very bright! In 1965, Kreutz-comet Ikeya-Seki was so bright, it could be seen by the naked eye by blocking the Sun out with your hand. We do not expect C/2011 W3 to get this bright, so reserve your seat next to your computer and stay tuned to the SOHO, STEREO and Sungrazer websites as we prepare for this rare and potentially spectacular object to enter our cameras around Dec 12, meeting its fiery demise late on Dec 15.

We will have more information on this site over the coming week. In the meantime, updates will occasionally be posted at the Sungrazer site.

Stay tuned!

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