Comet Hunting

The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) provides a wonderful opportunity for students to find a new comet.  Over 1,800 comets have been discovered in this manner. 

The LASCO coronagraph on SOHO, designed for seeing outbursts from the Sun, uses a mask to block the bright rays from the visible surface. It monitors a large volume of surrounding space and, as a result, has become the most prolific 'discoverer' of comets in the history of astronomy. Its images are displayed on the internet.

More than 75% of the discoveries have come from amateur comet hunters around the world, watching these freely available SOHO images on the internet. So, anyone with internet access can take part in the hunt for new comets and be a 'comet discoverer'!

SOHO Image - Comet Impacting the Sun (actual time frame 24 hrs.)
Student Project Solar Observation Classroom Activity.
For more information on how to utilize the SOHO data for comet hunting,  click here.

To download SOHO data, click here.