Accidental ‘photobomb’ of comet Lovejoy is a ‘joy’ to behold

2 Mar 2015

The Dark Energy camera caught these images of comet Lovejoy on 27 December while trying to photograph deeper space

As far as space accidents go, the ‘accidental observation’ of comet Lovejoy by the Dark Energy camera, the most powerful on Earth, has captured a beautiful and detailed image of the comet’s nucleus and coma.

The several-framed image that has captured the imagination of space lovers everywhere was taken on 27 December at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO) in northern Chile by a team of researchers who call themselves the Dark Energy Detectives.

According to, at the time the images were taken, comet Lovejoy was about 82m km (51m miles) from Earth, but found itself ‘photobombing’ into view given that the team was actually trying to capture images of deeper space at a distance of 12.8bn km (8bn miles).

As a result, Lovejoy appeared as an enormous green and blue object traversing the near-universe thanks to the power of the Dark Energy Camera which has a resolution of 570 megapixels.

Speaking of the image, the Dark Energy Detectives wrote in their blog that it shows how easy it is to miss things right in front of our faces.

“It reminds us that before we can look out beyond our galaxy to the far reaches of the universe, we need to watch out for celestial objects that are much closer to home!”


Image via Dark Energy Detectives/Dark Energy Survey

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic