Comet C/2007 N3 (Lulin)

Comet C/2007 N3 (Lulin) on January 27, 2009

At the time this image was taken, this comet was visible in Libra before dawn, and climbing higher in the eastern sky each night. The comet displayed a dust tail which is visible below the comet nucleus in this image. A rare anti-tail is visible above the comet nucleus in this image. This was the ion tail extending away from the comet in the direction opposite to the direction of the Sun. Because the comet lies in the same orbital plane as us, we saw it at an unusual angle, resulting in the unusual tail and anti-tail that were visible with Comet Lulin. This comet was traveling in a retrograde parabolic orbit almost exactly along the ecliptic, i.e., it was going backwards or in the opposite direction from the direction that the planets orbit the Sun.

This comet was discovered by a 19 year-old student at Sun Yat-sen University in mainland China, on images taken by Chi Sheng Lin at the National Central University in Taiwan on the night of July 11, 2007. The year 2007 was a record year for comet discoveries, with a total of 223 comets being discovered during that year.

This image is a color composite RGB CCD image taken with an ST-8XE CCD using a Takahashi Epsilon 180ED telescope at f2.8. The image was taken from my backyard in Scottsdale, Arizona. This image was featured in a news story published by MSNBC entitled, "Newfound Comet Lulin to Grace Night Skies." It was also published on the website. This image was used in the Google Earth planisphere site, and on the Cosmic Visibility website. This image was also published in the photo gallery for the Anacortes Telescope & Wild Bird website. The image was published in a Night Sky Columnist article on

Constellation: Libra
RA: 15h 27m 07s Dec: -17d 58' 21" (J2000)
January 27, 2008 at 1209 UT
Image by Sid Leach
Scottsdale, Arizona

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