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Mike Olason

Location of Photo:

Tucson, Arizona

Date/Time of photo:

9 May 2021, 0958 UT


11" SCT and STF-8300M CCD Camera


Comet C/2021 E3 (ZTF) was imaged in a thick star field, fortunately the comet's apparent motion relative to Earth was very slow so a couple 5 minute images could be taken between some stars with very little star motion to lose the comet in a star's background glare. The comet appears star-like in the images at magnitude 18.3 and 442 million miles from Earth. The comet will be at perihelion in it's orbit in June 2022 when it will be 165 million miles from the Sun and the comet will also make it's close approach to the Earth in June 2022 at 112 million miles when it may brighten to magnitude 11. So one might ask what is ZTF, it is the Zwicky Transient Facility, a wide field astronomical survey using the Samuel Oschin Schmidt Telescope at the Palomar Observatory in California. Supposedly with it's new camera it can cover a 47 degree square field of view in one image down to magnitude 20.4 according to it's abstract.