Comet C/2018 X3 (PANSTARRS)
Taken by Mike Olason on December 30, 2018 @ Denver, Colorado
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Here is a comet that is 2.6 million times fainter than the magnitude 4 that Comet 46P/Wirtanen brightened to in December. Comet C/2018 X3 (PANSTARRS) was at perihelion in its orbit on December 30 when it was 251 million miles from the Sun. In this 70 minute collection of images (seven 10 minute images average on the comet to reduce the noise to see this faint comet) Comet C/2018 X3 was about magnitude 20 and 167 million miles from Earth. The comet made its close approach to Earth on December 9 when it was 161 million miles from Earth. Magnitude 20 is about as bright as this comet is predicted to get. The big image and upper left inset are from raw data (Dark and Flat only), the upper right inset was processed with a Median Filter and Smoothed to give the comet a little shape. Each star in these images appear as a streak of 7 dots due to the movement of the comet over 70 minutes.
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