Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2024 April 17
The totally eclipsed Sun from 2024 April 8 is shown in
 the center. Two comets and two planets are also visible,
and labeled as 12P, Mercury, SOHO-5008, and Venus.
The two comets are shown in expanded form at the top in two
inset images. 
Please see the explanation for more detailed information.

Total Eclipse and Comets
Image Credit & Copyright: Lin Zixuan (Tsinghua U.)

Explanation: Not one, but two comets appeared near the Sun during last week's total solar eclipse. The expected comet was Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks, but it was disappointingly dimmer than many had hoped. However, relatively unknown Comet SOHO-5008 also appeared in long duration camera exposures. This comet was the 5008th comet identified on images taken by ESA & NASA's Sun-orbiting SOHO spacecraft. Likely much smaller, Comet SOHO-5008 was a sungrazer which disintegrated within hours as it passed too near the Sun. The featured image is not only unusual for capturing two comets during an eclipse, but one of the rare times that a sungrazing comet has been photographed from the Earth's surface. Also visible in the image is the sprawling corona of our Sun and the planets Mercury (left) and Venus (right). Of these planets and comets, only Venus was easily visible to millions of people in the dark shadow of the Moon that crossed North America on April 8.

Solar Eclipse Imagery: Notable Submissions to APOD
Tomorrow's picture: open space


< | Archive | Submissions | Index | Search | Calendar | RSS | Education | About APOD | Discuss | >

Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (UMCP)
NASA Official: Amber Straughn Specific rights apply.
NASA Web Privacy, Accessibility, Notices;
A service of: ASD at NASA / GSFC,
NASA Science Activation
& Michigan Tech. U.