Sun  Planets and Moons  ID: 4342

Sixteen Comets Touring the Inner Solar System

Stationed in a halo orbit around the Earth-Sun Lagrange point since 1996, the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) has monitored the Sun for nearly 20 years. The Large Angle and Spectrometric Coronagraph (LASCO) instrument blocks out the bright solar disk, making it easier to see the corona of plasma and dust around the Sun, normally only visible during solar eclipses. This instrument also provides a very large field of view of the region around the Sun.
In addition to the benefit of this capability in solar studies, SOHO/LASCO can see many comets which pass very close to the Sun, called 'sungrazers'. Observers on Earth rarely see these objects as they are obstructed by the Sun's glare and Earth's atmospheric scattering at sunrise and sunset. SOHO/LASCO has seen not only many known comets, but discovered many more NEW sungrazing comets. At the time of this writing, the discovery count is approaching 3000.
There are nearly sixteen comets and trajectories plotted in these visualizations which covers the time frame from January 2005 to December 2013 at the rate of one frame of the movie corresponding to one day.
The trails are color coded based on group membership.

  • Yellow - non-periodic comets
  • Cyan - Periodic comets

Important Notes and Caveats:


Visualization Credits

Tom Bridgman (Global Science and Technology, Inc.): Lead Visualizer
Genna Duberstein (USRA): Producer
Scott Wiessinger (USRA): Producer
Karl Battams (Naval Research Laboratory): Lead Scientist
Karen Fox (ADNET Systems, Inc.): Lead Writer
Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio

Short URL to share this page:


Data Used:
SPICE Ephemerides also referred to as: SPICE Ephemerides
Ephemeris - NASA/JPL
Satellite and planetary ephemerides
Knight-Pierce Sungrazer Collection also referred to as: Sungrazer Collection
Data Compilation - Lowell Observatory
Note: While we identify the data sets used in these visualizations, we do not store any further details nor the data sets themselves on our site.

This item is part of this series:
SOHO Approaches 3000 Comet Discoveries

SVS >> Comet
SVS >> Solar System
NASA Science >> Sun
NASA Science >> Planets and Moons
SVS >> Sungrazing Comets