comet elenin, photographed by stereo b, august 2011.
based on the trajectory of its brief visit to the inner solar system, comet elenin (c/2010 x1) was once an outer oort cloud object with an orbit of millions of years. perturbed inward (possibly by a passing star) the comet partially disintegrated while passing close to the sun (0.48 au), and is now in a 12,000 year orbit in the scattered disc.
top: 7 frames, composite of 14 images. bottom left & right: both component sequences. all photographed 6-12th august.
milky way, photographed by stereo b, 21st-22nd january 2007.
the plane of the galaxy around scorpius. the second brightest object in the image, above the galaxy, is antares. the very brightest, above and left, must be a planet - perhaps mars. the pair of bright stars that just sneak into frame at bottom right are alpha and beta centauri; one of the stars in the alpha centauri star system, proxima centauri, is the closest star to the sun.
18 frames over 22 hours.
on january 21st, the spacecraft used a lunar gravity assist to escape the earth-moon system and enter a heliocentric orbit.