New comet C/2009 Q4 (Borisov) looks a little like a cosmic shuttlecock with its tiny, bright head and faint, extended tail. It’s the first comet discovered from beyond our solar system. This photo is a composite of four 60-second exposures through red and green filters. Blue and red dashes are stars that trailed during the time exposure while the telescope tracked the comet. Gemini Observatory / NSF / AURA
On August 30, Russian amateur astronomer Gennady Borisov captured a most unusual object in a photograph taken with his homebuilt 25.6-inch (0.65-meter) telescope. It didn’t look like much — just a fuzzy spot with a hint of fan-shaped tail. Yes, it was a comet, but not just any comet. This one had blown in from another star system!
Gennady Borisov with some of his telescopes he uses to find comets and near-Earth asteroids. The new comet is his seventh discovery. A few of his finds have made for pretty sights in amateur telescopes. Courtesy of G. Borisov
Every comet discovered up till that moment until has orbited the sun. This one came from interstellar space, in other words, it once belonged to another star system who knows how many hundreds of ...