Comet C/2020 F8 (SWAN)

Discovered by amateur astronomer, Michael Mattiazzo, on SWAN images on 2020 March 25. Subsequently, the comet's orbit was determined to be hyperbolic indicating that this was its only visit to our solar system. It passed within 0.575 AU of Earth on 2020 May 12 with perihelion on 2020 May 27 (0.432 AU). When nearing Earth its motion against the stars was apparent in about 20 seconds on photographs. 

Because of poor weather and Covid-19 pandemic restrictions this was the one and only record I have for this beautiful object.


2020 May 8: photographed against the stars of Cetus when about magnitude 5. Light-pollution of inner suburban Melbourne and a full moon at perigee made for a challenging task. Canon 5D II + 500mm lens, at f6.3, on an NEQ6 Pro mount tracking the sky. Thirty four minutes of 20 sec exposures stacked and combined to optimise the comet and the star field; field of view ~1.5x2.2, north is to the lower left. The gas tail (much diminished because of being washed out by the bright background sky - corrected in the image) is directed towards the top left of the frame.

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