Australian amateur astronomer Alan Watson discovered on January 02, 2010 a bright sungrazing comet in the images taken on December 30 by STEREO-A spacecraft.
A sungrazing comet is a comet that passes extremely close to the Sun at perihelion. While small sungrazers can be completely evaporated during such a close approach to the Sun, larger sungrazers can survive many perihelion passages.
The comet is now visible in the images taken by LASCO C3 camera of SOHO spacecraft:
Spaceweather image with labels:
According to a message by Wentao Xu on comets-ml mailing list, the comet has reached magnitude 4 on January 02.36. Magnitude right now (January 02 at 22UT) is perhaps 0 (maybe -1).
Below an animation made by M. Jaeger using 35 Soho images from Jan 2 at 14.42UT to Jan 2 at 21.18UT . Click on the image below to see it:
UPDATE - JANUARY 04, 2010
On January 03 the comet was visible in the Lasco C2 camera too:
http://bit.ly/4Iq5Vq & http://bit.ly/7ZCEy9
While here you can see the frames used by A. Watson to discover the comet in Stereo images. Look for the faint streak rising from lower left.
According to the latest Soho images the comet has not survived to this extremely close passage near the Sun.
By Ernesto Guido