Comet 103P/Hartley is a periodic comet that orbits the Sun once about every 6.5 years. It was discovered in 1986 by astronomer Malcolm Hartley. Its closest approach to Earth, at about 11 million miles, will occur on October 20, 2010. It should reach magnitude 5, which is pretty dim, but not impossible to see in dark skies.
On October 8 and 9, 103P/Hartley passed near the Double Cluster in the constellation Perseus. I compiled this image from several individual images taken on October 8. The comet is the green patch in the upper-right. The nucleus of the comet is the bright green streak. The streak indicates how far the comet traveled during a 24-minute period.
|Comet 103P/Hartley passing in front of the Double Cluster in Perseus.|