When the bright-green Comet 2018/Y1 Iwamoto swung by the sun in February 2019, astrophotographers took advantage of the once-in-a-lifetime chance to photograph the comet with their telescopes. The periodic comet won't be back for another 1,371 years. Comet Iwamoto was bright enough to see through binoculars and small telescopes during its passage through the inner solar system.
It reached perihelion, its closest point to the sun, on Feb. 7, and it grew brighter over the next few nights as it got closer to planet Earth. It was at its brightest during its closest approach to Earth on Feb. 12, when it passed by at a safe distance of 28 million miles (45 million kilometers).
Click through this gallery to see some of the most amazing views of Comet Iwamoto captured by astrophotographers around the world!
In Nerpio, Spain, astrophotographer Gerald Rhemann created this animation of Comet Iwamoto dashing across a backdrop of stars on Feb. 9, 2019, or about two days after the comet made its closest approach to the sun.
Comet 2018/Y1 Iwamoto is seen dashing before a sea of galaxies on Feb. 2 in this image by Italian astrophotographer and comet researcher Rolando Ligustri, aka "The Comet Man." He captured the image using the remote telescope system at iTelescope.net. If you need help identifying all the different galaxies in this view, check out the annotated version here.
The Sombrero Galaxy "photobombs" Comet 2018/Y1 Iwamoto in this star-speckled view by Ian Griffin, an astrophotographer and the director of the Otago Museum in New Zealand. Officially designated NGC 4594, the Sombrero Galaxy is about 28 million light-years away from Earth in the constellation Virgo.
Griffin captured this image from the University of Canterbury's Mount John Observatory in Tekapo, New Zealand, on Feb. 4, 2019. The 30-minute exposure shows the comet's speedy motion in the night sky. See Iwamoto go in this time-lapse video Griffin shared on Twitter on the same day this photo was taken.
Rolando Ligustri captured this image the next following day (Feb. 3), when Comet 2018/Y1 Iwamoto was even closer to the Sombrero Galaxy than it was the night before. In this view, the comet and the Sombrero Galaxy form a triangle with the bright star 21 Virginis near the top right corner. (You can see an annotated version of this image here.)
Another image by astrophotographer Gerald Rhemann reveals Comet 2018/Y1 Iwamoto's vibrant coma glowing bright-green in the Virgo constellation on Feb. 8, 2019.
Astrophotographer Rolando Ligustri captured this image of Comet 2018 Y1/Iwamoto on Jan. 4, 2019, more than a month before the comet made its closest approach to the sun.
Comet 2018/Y1 Iwamoto looks like a neon glowworm in this deep-space photo by Alan G. Forsyth, a photographer based in Dunoon, Scotland. He captured this image on Feb. 10, 2019 as the comet was passing through the constellation Leo.
Comet 2018 Y1/Iwamoto takes on a light shade of purple in this image taken by astrophotographer Rolando Ligustri on Feb. 8, 2019.
As Comet 2018 Y1 Iwamoto made its way toward perihelion, astrophotographer Rolando Ligustri captured this image of it passing between the Virgo and Libra constellations on Jan. 12, 2019.