Comet discovered during 2020 Total Solar Eclipse

On December 13, the day before the solar eclipse, Thai amateur astronomer Worachate Boonplod saw the comet called C / 2020 X3.

The comet, named C / 2020 X3 (SOHO) by the Mini-Planet Center, is a “Kreutz” sunflower. This comet family came from a large parent comet that broke up into smaller fragments over a thousand years ago and still revolves around the sun today.

Boonplod knew the eclipse was coming. He was excited to see if his new comet discovery could appear in the outer atmosphere of the sun as a speck in eclipse images.

The comet traveled at about 450,000 miles per hour, about 2.7 million miles from the surface of the sun. It was about 50 feet in diameter – about the length of a semitruck. It then went into dust particles as a result of intense solar radiation, a few hours before it reached the point closest to the Sun.

Kreutz sungrazing comets are usually found in SOHO images. A SOHO camera works by simulating total solar eclipses: A hard occulting disk blocks out sunlight, revealing curved features in the outer atmosphere and other square objects such as comets. To date, 4,108 comets have been detected in SOHO images, with this comet being the 3,524th Kreutz constellation seen.