Skip to comments.Comet Hartley 2 close, but hard to see
Posted on 10/25/2010 4:38:15 PM PDT by SunkenCiv
A greenish comet named 103P/Hartley 2 flew within 11 million miles of the Earth on Wednesday, one of the closest approaches by a comet in centuries. But hardly anyone is likely to see it until a Maryland-led NASA mission sends a spacecraft past on Nov. 4.
While the comet has been visible in the northern sky for weeks, it has been a difficult target for backyard stargazers, especially in light-polluted suburban skies.
"This is probably one of the best comets of the year," said Armen Caroglanian, a member of an employees' astronomy club at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. But it's nothing like comets Hale-Bopp (1997) and Hyakutake (1996) -- big comets that were hard to miss, even from urban locations, despite being much more distant...
Caroglanian first spotted it in a small telescope Sept. 10 at a star party under dark skies in West Virginia. But when he tried again a week later in light-polluted skies at his home in Silver Spring, it was invisible. He managed to pick it up again last weekend in binoculars as it drew closer to Earth and brightened. But it wasn't easy...
Alan MacRobert, senior editor at Sky & Telescope Magazine, said the comet is now near the bright star Capella, in the northeastern sky in the evening. It has grown "quite large, but dim," he said.
...if all goes well, NASA's EPOXI spacecraft will have flown within 435 miles of the comet's nucleus and sent back a wealth of close-up photos and scientific data.
The mission's principal investigator, University of Maryland astronomer Michael F. A'Hearn, says his science team is already reporting very slow outbursts of gas from the comet. "That's a behavior we haven't seen before. We don't know what it means yet," he said.
(Excerpt) Read more at articles.baltimoresun.com ...
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I’d forgot about thing. I’ll have to look for it tonight.
In a year of NO very bright comets, this being one of the best makes sense to me. :)
Haven’t had a chance to take a peak, but, hope to this weekend.
I've seen Kohoutek, Halley, and at least one more recent one, all with binoculars. The only one I saw that was easily visible with the naked eye was Comet Bennett back in 1970.
Some lunatics think civilization equals “pollution”.