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Comet Holmes

On 6 November 2007 staff and students at Cardiff University observed Comet Holmes. Using a number of telescopes, including those located at Cardiff University Observatory, on the roof of the School of Physics and Astronomy building, they observed how the comet has brightened up in recent days. Second-year undergraduate students looked at the comet during their laboratory class in 'Observational Techniques in Astronomy'. This picture was taken by staff member David Nutter. It is a composite of 34 images each of 2 seconds exposure at ISO 800 on a 300mm f5.6 lens.

Image of Comet Holmes.

The comet was discovered by E. Holmes in 1892. It is normally too faint to be seen by the naked eye. However, from time to time it appears to brighten up by many orders of magnitude. Its most recent such outburst began on 24 October 2007. It brightened from about 15th magnitude in July 2007 to an estimated 3rd magnitude by the end of October. The outburst is believed to have been caused by the comet throwing off its outer layers as a result of some gigantic internal explosion.