User highlight: Comet 96P/Machholz returns

YouTube and user otraLoly shared this short video of the return of Comet 96P/Machholz to the LASCO-C3 field of view. Thanks for sharing your video! More images of the comet will be available soon on

The small, tadpole-like extended feature approximately in the center of the field of view in the image below is Comet 96P/Machholz.
Comet 96/PMachholz in 2012, close up

Comet 96P/Machholz has an orbital period of about 5.2 years, which means it has been seen before in LASCO observations. Here is an example image from 2007

Comet 96p/Machholz in 2007

and five years before that in 2002,

Comet 96p/Machholz in 2002

The dates for the entry of Comet 96P/Machholz were obtained from the transit page of the LASCO instrument. It is projected to be visible in the LASCO C3 field of view from July 12 – 17, and it may also be visible in the images from the STEREO A/B coronagraphs.

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  1. #1 by Ginger on July 12, 2012 - 8:04 pm

    Can you tell me what the other white object is disappearing around the sun as the comet approaches..?? Also, does this happen just minutes before the X~class flare today?

    • #2 by jack on July 12, 2012 - 9:08 pm


      The first image out of the three in the blog post are from the recent return of 96P/Machholz. The appearance of the comet has got absolutely nothing to do with today’s X flare.

      The third image in the blog post is from 2002. According to the transit page the large white blob that appears towards the right of the Sun is the planet Venus.



  2. #3 by Thomas Ziegler on July 14, 2012 - 8:15 pm

    In the second pic. Just north of the sun there is another tail, what is that?

    • #4 by jack on July 16, 2012 - 2:20 pm

      If you go back to the previous LASCO-C3 image
      and forward to the next LASCO-C3 image
      you can see that it disappears, whereas Comet 96P/Machholz does not disappear in either of these images. The fact that the feature you are looking at does not look like Comet 96P/Machholz or any other comet seen in LASCO-C3, and since it also appears in only one frame, strongly indicates that the feature is due to a cosmic ray hitting the detector. This is a very common occurrence in LASCO-C3 images, and is explained in greater detail here. Let me know if you have any further questions.

  3. #5 by sean3 on August 22, 2012 - 2:40 pm

    comet mancholz(96P)
    is a great scene for users!

  4. #6 by Schott on October 14, 2012 - 5:09 pm

    a great Webside

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