Archive for comets

Green Comet Approaching Earth

Posted in 2017, Galaxy with tags , , , , on February 6, 2017 by theboldcorsicanflame


This week, a small green comet named “45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova” (45P for short) is approaching Earth for one of the closest comet flybys of the Space Age.

On the nights around Feb. 11th, Comet 45P will be an easy target for binoculars and small telescopes, revealing itself in eyepieces as an emerald colored fuzzball.

Visit today’s edition of for sky maps and to find out what makes this little comet so green.

The Mysterious Star KIC 8462852

Posted in 2016, astronomy, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on August 8, 2016 by theboldcorsicanflame


The SETI Institute is following up on the possibility that the stellar system KIC 8462852 might be home to an advanced civilization.

This star, slightly brighter than the Sun and more than 1400 light-years away, has been the subject of scrutiny by NASA’s Kepler space telescope.  It has shown some surprising behavior that’s odd even by the generous standards of cosmic phenomena.

  KIC 8462852 occasionally dims by as much as 20 percent, suggesting that there is some material in orbit around this star that blocks its light. 

For various reasons, it’s obvious that this material is not simply a planet.  A favored suggestion is that it is debris from comets that have been drawn into relatively close orbit to the star.

But another, and obviously intriguing, possibility is that this star is home to a technologically sophisticated society that has constructed a phalanx of orbiting solar panels (a so-called Dyson swarm) that block light from the star.

To investigate this idea, we have been using the Allen Telescope Array to search for non-natural radio signals from the direction of KIC 8462852.  This effort is looking for both narrow-band signals (similar to traditional SETI experiments) as well as somewhat broader transmissions that might be produced, for example, by powerful spacecraft.



Strange Star Likely Swarmed by Comets


SPACE Comet Punch Threw Mars’ Magnetism into Chaos

Posted in 2016, astronomy with tags , , , on March 11, 2016 by theboldcorsicanflame



When Comet C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring) swung past the Red Planet in October 2014, it was an unprecedented opportunity for an armada of Mars robots to have a ringside seat of the interplanetary spectacle. But as dazzling as the flyby was, the real drama wasn’t seen by the cameras of Mars orbiters or rovers; it was detected by a magnetometer. And that magnetometer, located 100 miles above the Martian surface, detected chaos.

To be continued on


Comet Siding Spring’s near-miss of Mars is today! October 19th 2014

Posted in 2014, astronomy, Galaxy with tags , , , , on October 19, 2014 by theboldcorsicanflame




UPDATE OCTOBER 19, 2014. Hurtling through space at about 35 miles (56 kilometers) per second, Comet Siding Spring (C/2013 A1) will sweep very close to the planet Mars today. It will be less than one-tenth the distance of any known previous earthly comet flyby on October 19 at 18:28 UTC, or 1:28 p.m. Central Daylight Time in North America.

The comet won’t collide with Mars, but its nucleus is expected to come within 82,000 miles (132,000 kilometers) of the Red Planet, or about one-third the moon’s distance from Earth. The comet’s coma of gas and dust may engulf Mars! In way of contrast, the closest comet to swing by Earth in recorded history was Lexell’s Comet, at six times the moon’s distance from Earth (6 x 384,400 kilometers or 238,855 miles) in the year 1770. Follow the links below to learn more about the comet that’s buzzing Mars today






Posted in 2014 with tags , , , , , on May 23, 2014 by theboldcorsicanflame







Earth won’t be the only body passing through the debris zone. The Moon will be, too. Meteoroids hitting the lunar surface could produce explosions visible through backyard telescopes on Earth. The inset in this picture of an actual lunar meteor shows the region of the crescent Moon on May 24th that could be pelted by May Camelopardalids

This weekend, Earth will pass through a stream of debris from Comet 209P/LINEAR. If forecasters are correct, the encounter could produce an outburst of bright meteors numbering more than 200 per hour.  Most models agree that peak rates should occur between the hours of 0600 UT and 0800 UT (2 a.m. and 4 a.m. EDT) on Saturday morning, May 24th, a time frame that favors observers in North America.  It is worth noting, however, that Earth has never encountered this stream of debris before, so forecasters cannot be certain of their predictions.  The display could be a complete dud, a fantastic “meteor storm,” or anything in between. Whatever happens, NASA plans to chat about it.

“Peaking at a magnitude of -2 (Mars brightness), our now-extinct visitor was about 3.3 cm in diameter – a little smaller than a ping pong ball,” continues Cooke. “We believe it was a May Camelopardalid because it had an orbit that greatly resembles that of parent Comet 209P/LINEAR.” The diagram, below, shows the match:

“So why is this good?” asks Cooke. “Looking back to 2012, our computer models show very little comet debris near Earth. We predicted nothing, yet got one meteor. Does this mean that a legion of his siblings will show up this year, when the models suggest the potential of a full-fledged meteor outburst? I’m getting excited about Friday night/Saturday morning.”



Every day, more than 40 tonnes of meteoroids hit our planet, with larger chunks of comet debris becoming fireballs

Posted in 2014 with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 22, 2014 by theboldcorsicanflame


Click to enlarge

The blue map tracks their position in the skies over our planet with the main showers highlighted in white circles


Click to enlarge

A second radar map looks at meteoroid speed. The red regions indicate a speed of 7.5 miles/s (12km/s), the green from 26 miles/s (42km/s) and the blue from 41 miles/s (66km/s)

Maps produced using the space agency’s Asgard program which tracks an estimated 4,000-5,000 meteoroids a day


An asteroid is a large chunk of rock left over from collisions or the early solar system.

Most are located between Mars and Jupiter in the Main Belt.

A comet is a rock covered in ice, methane and other compounds. Their orbits take them much further out of the solar system.

A meteor is what we call a flash of light in the atmosphere when debris burns up.

This debris itself is known as a meteoroid. Most are so small they are vapourised in the atmosphere.

If any of this meteoroid makes it to Earth, it is called a meteorite

Meteors, meteoroids and meteorites normally originate from asteroids and comets.

According to a prediction by E. Lyytinen and P. Jenniskens, comet 209P/LINEAR will possibly cause a big meteor shower on May 24, 2014.

Posted in 2014 with tags , , , , , , , on April 19, 2014 by theboldcorsicanflame


You can see our image Above with the comet of a about magnitude ~17. (click on it for a bigger version).

209P/LINEAR is a periodic comet discovered by the Lincoln Laboratory Near-Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) survey on five images taken on 2004, February 3.40 (discovery magnitude ~18.1).

Reported by LINEAR as an apparent asteroidal object, it has been found to show a narrow 1′.1 tail in p.a. 274 deg (slightly expanding toward the end) on CCD images obtained by R. H. McNaught with the 1.0-m f/8 reflector at Siding Spring on Mar. 30.8 UT.

This comet has been assigned the permanent designation 209P on 2008, December 12 (previous designation were P/2008 X2 (LINEAR) = P/2004 CB). We performed follow-up measurements of this object on 2014, April 14.95 with the 2.0-m f/10.0 Ritchey-Chretien + CCD telescope of”La Palma-Liverpool (J13 MPC code).

According to a prediction by E. Lyytinen and P. Jenniskens, comet 209P/LINEAR will possibly cause a big meteor shower on May 24, 2014. On May 29, 2014 this comet will pass just 0.055 AU from Earth or about ~8 million km (while the perihelion,  i.e. closest approach to the Sun, will be on May 6, 2014) making it one of the closest comet approaches in history. Comet 209P/LINEAR will be at magnitude ~10 around the time of the shower.

The main source of activity should become”>1898-1919 trails, however some meteors could be produced by the earlier trails of the comet, down to 1763 trail, which is the oldest computed trail, and even earlier. The computed time of maximum acitivity is May 24, 2014, at 7:21 UT, theoretical radiant is RA=122.8, Dec=+79.0 (in the constellation Camelopardalis).

Exact timing and activity level is difficult to estimate due to the limited physical observations of this comet. The estimate of level of the shower is based on available photometric measurements of the comet. Estimates give a”>ZHR of 100/hr to 400/hr, which is an excellent outburst!

But this shower can become an exceptional one. “Indeed, given the current orbit of the comet (from JPL HORIZONS ephemerids database), ALL THE TRAILS EJECTED BETWEEN 1803 AND 1924 DO FALL IN THE EARTH PATH IN MAY 2014!!!” As a consequence, this shower might as well be a storm.  


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