Skip to comments.Self-Destructing Comet To Flash Close By
Posted on 04/25/2006 2:17:04 PM PDT by blam
Self-destructing comet to flash close by
10:30 24 April 2006
NewScientist.com news service
Astronomers will soon be treated to a close-up celestial show, with a fragmenting comet streaming across the sky in more than 30 chunks. Comet 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 3 has been breaking up since 1995, but between 12 and 14 May will come closer to the Earth than any comet since 1983.
Fortunately no threat is posed to Earth since, even at its closest, the nearest of the pieces will be twenty times more distant than the Moon.
But astronomers around the world will take advantage of the relatively close pass. The Hubble and Spitzer Space Telescopes will join with dozens of ground-based facilities for the observation campaign. And scientists expect the brightest comet pieces to be visible through binoculars and possibly, faintly, to the naked eye.
By studying the materials exposed by the break-up, astronomers hope to learn more about the interior of comets, where pristine ingredients from the solar system's earliest days are thought to be preserved. For that reason, some astronomers view the event as a free version of NASA's comet-busting Deep Impact mission.
Bursts of brightness
They also hope to gain insight about how and why such comets become fragmented. For largely unknown reasons, Comet 73P broke into as many as five pieces in 1995. Gravitational forces are known to tear apart some comets, such as the famous Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 which ended its existence with a spectacular crash into Jupiter. But Comet 73P follows a 5.4-year solar orbit that does not bring it close enough to Jupiter or the Sun for gravitational tugs to be the culprit.
The initial trigger that set Comet 73P's fragmentation process in action in 1995 is still a matter of speculation. "We suspect that rotation may contribute, but it may not be rotation alone. It could be that thermal stresses are also contributing," says Zdenek Sekanina, a cometary physicist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, US.
A clue may come from the chronology of observations in 1995. Astronomers observed two sudden bursts of brightness from the comet in September and November. Then in December, observers caught the first glimpse of Comet 73P in its piecemeal form.
Such flare-ups are thought to be caused by the sublimation of newly exposed ice from the interior of the comet. Splitting comets have often been detected because of these flare-ups. But it remains unclear whether the outbursts actually cause comets to split or are simply an after-effect of a split that occurred through other processes.
In any case, comet 73P is still breaking up. The remnant of the parent comet is known as component C and other pieces have been given letter names progressing through the alphabet. And as of this week, astronomers have reached named 37 fragments.
Some of the pieces have survived two orbits around the Sun since the original divide in 1995. But others have been lost. For example, components A, D, E and F have not been spotted this year. They may have broken into pieces too small to see or they may simply be inactive, and therefore invisible. But at least 33 mini-comets may be able to put on a light show when passing Earth.
Some fragmenting comets, such as Comet Biela in the 19th century, have produced meteor showers when flying by our planet. But Paul Wiegert, of the University of Western Ontario, does not expect a meteor shower in May, based on the nature of the 1995 break up.
He says the comet's cloud of debris is not likely to reach Earth until 2022. "But things have changed a little bit because the comet is continuing to break up," he adds. "So it's a little bit hard to say whether we will see meteor showers this year."
If anything happens, we know it will be Bush's fault!
Will these be visible from anywhere on earth, or only in certain places? It sounds pretty cool, I'd like to see it.
Why do you blame our President, you liberal?
Well, Bush is doing nothing about global warming, and that is causing the comet to melt and break up like the Antarctic Ice Sheets!
(It makes about as much sense as the other global warming alarmism...)
I thought the guy was some sort of nut job.
You need to know that up to recently, before I discovered what you have just read on this fragmented comet, I received on April 7, 2006 a telepathic message from extraterrestrial friends. According to them, a méga-tsunami in the Atlantic Ocean I had experienced in a lucid dream three years ago, would occur around MAY 25, 2006. Perhaps two or three days before or after. I have two witnesses who will confirm the chronology of the facts that I describe here, but especially tens of readers on Internet and a deposit of copyright concerning my lucid dream three years earlier.
Looks like something from the Art Bell show.
I hope that he isn't right...
Surf's up, dude!
OK, I'll give you that, but I think we'll pick up two, maybe three, seats in the House.
So, I WILL have ocean front property in Florida! :)
These loons seem to always be predicting gloom and doom.....I've learned NEVER TO READ THEIR DELUSIONS.
There. Fixed it for ya! ;-)
The guy hemmed and hawed, and I fell asleep before I heard his answer.
(That, and I had to DX to WABC, since the local CC station NEVER switches to an active feed after a late night sports event.
Dang keep alive after whatever game. "CBS radio networks channel 4X...beep...")
Good thing! I wouldn't want any of hit to land in Iraq and strike the beloved Ahmadenijad! But, if it happens, it is Allah's will.
Here's a link. I'm too lazy to summarize it, but it will be visible in the northern hemisphere in April and May.
Hey, my tagline has some undocumented characters in it. What's going on?
Where does one go to surrender to a comet?
What leads you to believe he's not a 'nut job'?
Oh darn, I was hoping it wouldn't come quite this far inland. But, that's ok, I have a kayak, and hurricane supplies. I hope the dog can swim.
"A french guy is forecasting that one of these comet fragments will hit the earth on May 25, 2006...I think he said into the Atlantic Ocean."
I keep tabs on various "prophetic" claims online as a sort of hobby. It's an interesting look at the zeitgeist, and is sometimes surprising. The various "prophecy people" have been going on about an east coast tsunami for a while now, due to two impacts; this is going back to early last year as far as when the so-called prophecies began to appear. Here's a very recent one, mentioning the comet by name:
I'm making no claims one way or the other about these things. I'm just observing. Make of it what you will.
Positions charted for 1:00 am. They say that 4:00 am on May 9, will be the only observing time when the moon is not in the sky.
Thanks mmercier for the ping. And here's what Blam mentioned:
Former Military Air Traffic Controller Claims Comet Collision with Earth on May 25, 2006
U.S. Newswire (a press release service) via Yahoo | Apr 13 | Dr. Michael Salla
Posted on 04/21/2006 10:54:42 PM EDT by george76
Well, some of the characters jumped the buffer from another stack, of course.
Heads, cave. Tails, submarine. Edge, surfboard.
Disaster That Struck The Ancients (Asteroid)
He is a nut job. He claims his alien contacts will only intervene to stop the comet fragments from hitting earth if the Bush administration promises not to use nukes on Iran. The guy is clearly steeped in leftist dogma. Noory asked him why his alien buddies aren't taking action against Iran's threats of nuclear aggression. <--crickets-->
I really enjoyed the book, "Day of the Triffids". I also liked the BBC version that aired about 25 years ago.
It was at Christmas this year that I pointed out to my BIL in Indiana that he had three Trifids in his yard posing as trees.
My pleasure, BL. I was out cheap DVD hunting yesterday, and alas didn't find a disk version of the mummies, but did see "When Worlds Collide", a truly beautiful kidney stone of a film. Definitely good for some laughs, and the cinematography is great. My favorite line in the whole thing is, "the fuel gauge is still on a quarter." ;')
Big comet plunging toward our Sun
Spaceweather.com | 4-16-04 | Orlando
Posted on 04/16/2004 4:17:04 PM EDT by Orlando
[lots of fun stupidity from Truth666, now banned]
Loud Bang and House Shaking in Lycoming County Pa. ( Thread 2 )
Posted on 07/23/2001 18:21:01 PDT by VRWC For Truth
a little more about Clube and Napier:
The missing sun temples! (Where are they?)
Al-Ahram Weekly (Egypt) | 2 - 8 January 2003 | Jill Kamil
Posted on 01/03/2003 6:59:47 PM EST by vannrox
That kind of choice could put me in a coma.
The gravity of the situation could be astronomical!
From your elipse to God's ear...
nine months later... I noticed a photo of a very prominent comet from 1970 (not this one, another one) and it looked like the one I remember seeing early one morning when my dad woke me up to have a look at it (that was Comet Bennett).
From Wikipedia During the comet's first run into the inner solar system for the first time in 500,000 years, the nucleus of Comet West was observed to split into four fragments as it passed within 30 million km. of the sun.
The first report of the split came around 7 March 1976 12:30UT, when reports were received that the comet had broken into two pieces. These two fragments remained the only pieces until Steven O'Meara, using the 9-inch Harvard Refractor, reported that two additional fragments had formed on the morning of 18 March.
The breakup was one of very few comet breakups observed from historical times by the 1970's. Recently, comets Shoemaker-Levy 9, Schwassmann-Wachmann-3 (73/P), C/1999 S4 LINEAR, and 57/P du Toit-Neujmin-Delporte, have been observed to disintegrate.