Comet C/2020 X3 SOHO

A small Kreutz sungrazer comet is visible in the image of the solar corona obtained during the total solar eclipse. This comet was discovered in SOHO LASCO images by amateur astronomer Worachate Boonplod on December 13, 2020, the day before the total solar eclipse. The size of the comet nucleus was approximately 15 m. During the eclipse observing it was about 4.4 millions km far from the solar surface and it disintegrated few hours before perihelion (0.005 AU). The image of the comet itself is very interesting as the comet's head had unusual orange-red color and the comet had two tails. The white one is the dust tail. The orange-red color of the second one and the comet's head is very likely caused by neutral sodium emission. Strong neutral sodium emission was observed in comets spectra very often and some comets had rather prominent sodium tail. Comet C/2020 F3 NEOWISE is a very nice example.
This image is oriented so that the solar North is roughly on the top. If you prefer the orientation as it was visible in the sky see this image version.
Click on the image or on the following reference to display the higher resolution image version (3.4 MB, PNG format).

Date14. 12. 2020
Time2nd contact 16:07:59 UT, 3rd contact 16:10:04 UT
PlaceFortin Nogueira, Neuquen, Argentina
CoordinateS 39° 57.680',   W 69° 59.576',  Alt. 485 m
ConditionsClear sky for 85 s of totality otherwise thin clouds
Solar altitude at mid-eclipse 72.4° above horizon
OpticsNikkor 80-400mm 1:4.5-5.6G ED VR (set to FL 400 mm, F5.6)
CameraNikon Z6
Exposure1/640 s - 3 s, ISO 100
ProcessingComposition of 55 eclipse images. Eclipse images were calibrated by means of dark frames and flat-fields, aligned by means of phase correlation, composed by means of LDIC 6.0 software, processed using Corona 6.0 in order to visualize coronal structures. Final processing was done using ACC 6.1 software.
Image processing by Miloslav Druckmüller
Images acquired by Andreas Möller
SoftwareAstro D3F 2.0, PhaseCorr 7.0, LDIC 6.0, Corona 6.0, Sofo ACC 6.1
NoteThe comet image was processed separately. The sky background was subtracted and the steep brightness gradient was removed.
OrientationImage must be rotated 5.29° clockwise to achieve standard orientation i.e. solar North up.
Copyright© 2020 Miloslav Druckmüller, Andreas Möller

Miloslav Druckmüller
Institute of Mathematics, Faculty of Mechanical Engineering
Brno University of Technology, Czech Republic
Page last update: 30.1.2021