The photos taken by SOHO through early this morning show Comet Lovejoy has survived its searingly close passage to the sun and is now visible as a bright star-like object on the other side. Meanwhile its dust tail still lingers as a ghostly wraith from before perihelion passage. I haven’t seen anything quite so astonishing in some time.
Here’s a more recent photo. As you can see, the surviving comet has grown another tail as it moves outward from the sun. Watch it sprout in this cool video. During the coming days, Lovejoy heads south in the sky and may become visible to southern hemisphere skywatchers. I’ll post a map for how to find it in tomorrow’s blog. Unfortunately, the comet’s currently too far south to be seen in the northern hemisphere. To survive its near brush with death, scientists now estimate Comet Lovejoy must have been larger than originally estimated – closer to 1,650 feet in diameter instead of 500.