Comet Garradd
© The Daily Post, New Zealand
Comet: Rotorua's Rolf Carstens captured this image of comet C/2009 P1 (Garradd) from his back garden on Homedale St on Monday morning.

Rotorua's Rolf Carstens is a keen amateur astronomer and was up at 2.30am on Monday to capture this photo of recently-discovered comet C/2009 P1 (Garradd).

The comet was discovered by Australian astronomer Gordon Garradd at Siding Spring, New South Wales, in 2009 and can be seen in the eastern skies of New Zealand.

The comet will come closest to Earth in March 2012 but will only be seen in the North Hemisphere at that time. Scientists are still trying to work out its orbit and when it will be near Earth in the future but, according to Mr Carstens, that will be "a very long time".

Mr Carstens used a 25.4cm SCT (Schmidt Cassegrain Telescope) on a German Equatorial Mount with a camera attached to take the picture from a system remotely controlled from inside his house. He is also a member of the Rotorua Astronomical Society, which has its next meeting tomorrow from 7.30pm at the old Rotorua West Bowling Club building on Kamahi Place.

Everyone is welcome.