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Keyword: comet

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  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- A Sudden Jet on Comet 67P

    11/18/2015 1:29:55 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 2 replies
    NASA ^ | November 18, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: There she blows! A dramatic demonstration of how short-lived some comet jets can be was documented in late July by the robotic Rosetta spacecraft orbiting the nucleus of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The featured animation depicts changes in the rotating comet with three illuminating stills. Although the first frame shows nothing unusual, the second frame shows a sudden strong jet shooting off the 67P's surface only 20 minutes later, while the third frame -- taken 20 minutes after that -- shows but a slight remnant of the once-active jet. As comets near the Sun, they can produce long and beautiful tails...
  • Dead comet with skull face to hurtle by Earth on Halloween

    11/01/2015 7:14:40 AM PST · by BenLurkin · 9 replies
    AFP/Yahoo ^ | October 31, 2015
    Astronomers initially thought the object was an asteroid when they spotted it in early October, and named it Asteroid 2015 TB145. But using the US space agency's Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF) on Mauna Kea, Hawaii, experts "have determined that the celestial object is more than likely a dead comet that has shed its volatiles after numerous passes around the sun," NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory said in a statement late Friday. ... The space rock has already grabbed attention with its unusually high speed and big size, about as large as a football stadium at 2,000 feet (600 meters) in diameter....
  • Rosetta finds molecular oxygen on comet 67P

    10/28/2015 12:35:33 PM PDT · by Red Badger · 11 replies
    Phys.org ^ | October 28, 2015 | Staff
    This single frame Rosetta navigation camera image of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko was taken on 7 July 2015 from a distance of 154 km from the comet centre. The image has a resolution of 13.1 m/pixel and measures 13.4 km across. Credit: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Stunned scientists announced Wednesday the unexpected discovery of large quantities of oxygen on a comet which streaked past the Sun in August with a European spacecraft in tow. The find came as a "big surprise", and challenges mainstream theories on the formation of our Solar System, said scientist Andre Bieler of the University of Michigan. Measurements suggested that...
  • Boozy comet leaves '500 bottles of wine per second' trail in its wake

    10/26/2015 7:26:54 PM PDT · by Fred Nerks · 40 replies
    ninemsn ^ | 27/10/2015 | N/A
    A comet with the nickname Happy Hour leaves a boozy trail equivalent to "500 bottles of wine per second" in its wake as it shoots through space. Scientists studying the comet, known as Lovejoy, have found its glowing trail is made up of alcohol and sugar. A study published by a group of scientists from NASA and European agencies observed the unusual comet as it rocketed alongside the sun on January 30, NASA reports. "You have alcohol and sugar, so that can lead to a 'happy hour' name, but I would not recommend anyone drink this water," team researcher Darek...
  • The Lost City of Atlantis May Be Hiding in Plain Sight Sergio Frau

    09/02/2015 10:20:23 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 42 replies
    Newser ^ | August 17, 2015 | Sergio Frau
    Sergio Frau suspects Plato was writing about a tidal wave on Sardinia... Writer and journalist Sergio Frau is another. After researching the island for a decade, Frau suspects a mysterious disaster that devastated Sardinia 3,200 years ago was in fact a tidal wave, which boosts the theory that Sardinia and Atlantis are one and the same, reports the Guardian. Stefano Tinti, an expert on tidal waves who recently visited the island with Frau along with a dozen other experts, says 350 tidal waves have occurred in the Mediterranean over the last 2,500 years and one might explain why all of...
  • How to Find Rosetta’s Comet In Your Telescope

    08/20/2015 5:21:07 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 9 replies
    Universe Today ^ | Bob King
    How would you like to see one of the most famous comets with your own eyes? Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko plies the morning sky, a little blot of fuzzy light toting an amazing visitor along for the ride — the Rosetta spacecraft. When you look at the coma and realize a human-made machine is buzzing around inside, it seems unbelievable. If you have a 10-inch or larger telescope, or you’re an experienced amateur with an 8-inch and pristine skies, 67P is within your grasp. The comet glows right around magnitude +12, about as bright as it will get this apparition. Periodic comets...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Announcing Comet Catalina

    08/18/2015 1:24:48 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | August 18, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Will Comet Catalina become visible to the unaided eye? Given the unpredictability of comets, no one can say for sure, but it seems like a good bet. The comet was discovered in 2013 by observations of the Catalina Sky Survey. Since then, Comet C/2013 US10 (Catalina) has steadily brightened and is currently brighter than 8th magnitude, making it visible with binoculars and long-duration camera images. As the comet further approaches the inner Solar System it will surely continue to intensify, possibly becoming a naked eye object sometime in October and peaking sometime in late November. The comet will reside...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Perihelion Approaches

    08/15/2015 12:07:35 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | August 15, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: This dramatic outburst from the nucleus of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko occured on August 12, just hours before perihelion, its closest approach to the Sun. Completing an orbit of the Sun once every 6.45 years, perihelion distance for this periodic comet is about 1.3 astronomical units (AU), still outside the orbit of planet Earth (at 1 AU). The stark image of the 4 kilometer wide, double-lobed nucleus in bright sunlight and dark shadows was taken by the Rosetta spacecraft's science camera about 325 kilometers away. Too close to see the comet's growing tail, Rosetta maintains its ringside seat to watch the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Comet Dust over Enchanted Rock

    08/14/2015 4:38:50 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 12 replies
    NASA ^ | August 14, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Dusty debris from periodic Comet Swift-Tuttle was swept up by planet Earth this week. Vaporized by their passage through the dense atmosphere at 59 kilometers per second, the tiny grains produced a stream of Perseid meteors. A bright, colorful Perseid meteor flash was captured during this 20 second exposure. It made its ephemeral appearance after midnight on August 12, in the moonless skies over the broad granite dome of Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, central Texas, USA. Below the Perseid meteor, trees stand in silhouette against scattered lights along the horizon and the faint Milky Way, itself cut by...
  • Rosetta's Comet Lets Out An Epic Fart [Toot, toot]

    08/12/2015 8:48:40 AM PDT · by Purdue77 · 29 replies
    Popular Science ^ | 8/11/2015 | Sarah Fecht
    Popular Science (8/11, Fecht) reports that on July 29, the Rosetta spacecraft was able to capture what the ESA called a “dramatic outburst” from Comet 67P, which was strong enough to affect the solar wind. The article notes that the ESA said that “unpredictable outbursts” like this one are occurring more frequently as the comet reaches perihelion, or its closest point to the sun in its orbit, on August 13.
  • Dramatic Outburst at Rosetta’s Comet Just Days Before Perihelion

    08/11/2015 12:34:27 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 18 replies
    Universe Today ^ | Bob King
    In a sequence of images taken by Rosetta’s scientific camera OSIRIS, the brilliant, well-defined jet erupts from the side of the comet’s neck in the Anuket region. It was first seen in a photo taken at 8:24 a.m. CDT, but not in one taken 18 minutes earlier, and had faded significantly in an image captured 18 minutes later. The camera team estimates the material in the jet was traveling at a minimum of 22 mph (10 meters/sec), but possibly much faster. It’s the brightest jet ever seen by Rosetta. Normally, the camera has to be set to overexpose 67P/C-G’s nucleus...
  • T-Minus 12 Days to Perihelion, Rosetta’s Comet Up Close and in 3D

    08/01/2015 11:43:56 AM PDT · by BenLurkin · 9 replies
    universetoday.com ^ | on August 1, 2015 | Bob King
    After first touching down, Philae was able to use its gas-sniffing Ptolemy and COSAC instruments to determine the makeup of the comet’s atmosphere and surface materials. COSAC analyzed samples that entered tubes at the bottom of the lander and found ice-poor dust grains that were rich in organic compounds containing carbon and nitrogen. It found 16 in all including methyl isocyanate, acetone, propionaldehyde and acetamide that had never been seen in comets before. Ptolemy sampled the atmosphere entering tubes at the top of the lander and identified water vapor, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide, along with smaller amounts of carbon-bearing...
  • Three-tailed Comet Q1 PanSTARRS Lights Up Southern Skies

    07/16/2015 1:10:38 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 4 replies
    universe today ^ | July 16, 2015 | Bob King
    Call it the comet that squeaked by most northern skywatchers. Comet C/2014 Q1 PanSTARRS barely made an appearance at dawn in mid-June when it crept a few degrees above the northeastern horizon at dawn. Only a few determined comet watchers spotted the creature. Two weeks later in early July it slipped into the evening and brightened to magnitude +4. But decreasing elongation from the Sun and bright twilight made it virtually impossible to see. Now it’s returned — with three tails! After taunting northerners, it’s finally come out of hiding, climbing into the western sky during evening twilight for observers...
  • Alien Life On Philae Comet, Scientists Say

    07/06/2015 5:10:49 PM PDT · by 2ndDivisionVet · 59 replies
    Sky News ^ | July 6, 2015
    Experts discover dark material is being constantly replenished and say: "Something must be doing that at a fairly prolific rate."Evidence of alien life is "unequivocal" on the comet carrying the Philae probe through space, two leading astronomers have said. The experts say the most likely explanation for certain features of the 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet, such as its organic-rich black crust, is the presence of living organisms beneath an icy surface. Rosetta, the European spacecraft orbiting the comet, is also said to have picked up strange "clusters" of organic material that resemble viral particles. But neither Rosetta nor its lander probe, Philae,...
  • Don't Believe the Hype About Life on Philae's Comet

    07/07/2015 10:57:21 AM PDT · by C19fan · 11 replies
    Popular Mechanics ^ | July 6, 2015 | Eric Limer
    You may be hearing some exciting news about comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, the place where the Philae lander woke up last month. Astronomer and astrobiologist Chandra Wickramasinghe says that the comet's core might harbor singled-celled extremophile life! But while he could be right, you should take his comments with a comet-sized grain of salt. Wickramashinghe and his colleague Max Wallis made a case for a life-filled comet at this year's Royal Astronomical Society's National Astronomy Meeting in Llandudno, Wales. Wickramasinghe's theory is tied mostly to the cosmic ice ball's structure and black crust. According to Wickramasinghe:
  • Giant sinkholes spotted on Rosetta's comet

    07/01/2015 2:40:21 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 4 replies
    On average, each of these quasi-circular holes are as wide as two football fields placed together, and some are as deep as the Washington monument is tall. ... The pits can be found clustered in just a few regions on the comet's surface. There are small groups of them on both the "head" and "body" of the rubber-duck-shaped comet, but nearly all of them appear in the comet's northern hemisphere. Cameras on Rosetta's OSIRIS instrument have spotted dust jets shooting out of some of the deeper depressions, but those that are more shallow do not seem to be active. The...
  • Comet Lander Philae Wakes Up After Months of Hibernation

    06/15/2015 6:39:56 PM PDT · by Swordmaker · 5 replies
    Time Magazine (Video) ^ | June 14, 2015 | Andrew Katz
    The comet lander "spoke" for 85 seconds via its orbiter, "Rosetta" The comet lander that went into hibernation last last year has made contact with its team back on Earth, European space officials said on Sunday. In a brief and excited statement, the European Space Agency said the unmanned Philae, which landed on 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in November to become the first spacecraft to touch down on a comet, sent a number of signals via its orbiter (“Rosetta”) to an operations center in Darmstadt, Germany. They were received on June 13 at 10:28 p.m., local time. Dr. Stephan Ulamec, Philae Project Manager...
  • Comet Probe Makes Contact After 7 Months Of Silence In Space

    06/15/2015 8:24:00 PM PDT · by nickcarraway · 7 replies
    CBS San Francisco ^ | June 15, 2015
    European scientists are celebrating after receiving a remarkable communication from space. The solar-powered Philae comet probe is sending signals back to earth after seven months of silence. The Philae spacecraft has been in touch with Earth from a speeding comet for the second time since waking up a few days ago, mission control said Monday, and scientists hope to improve communications with the lander by shifting the trajectory of its mother ship. Philae in November became the first spacecraft ever to settle on a comet when it touched down on icy 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, but it managed to send data to Earth...
  • Philae Wakes Up, Makes Contact!

    06/14/2015 9:19:08 AM PDT · by BenLurkin · 11 replies
    The lander “spoke” with its team on ground via Rosetta for 85 seconds — its first contact since going into hibernation in November. Signals were received at ESA’s European Space Operations Center in Darmstadt at 4:28 p.m. EDT yesterday June 13. The lander sent more than 300 data packets reporting on its condition as well as information about the comet. ... If coming out of hibernation isn’t surprising enough, it appears Philae has been awake for a while because it included historical data along with its current status in those packets. There are still more than 8000 data packets in...
  • Have We Found Rosetta’s Lost Philae Lander?

    06/13/2015 8:05:18 AM PDT · by BenLurkin · 6 replies
    It’s only a bright dot in a landscape of crenulated rocks, but the Rosetta team thinks it might be Philae, the little comet lander lost since November. The Rosetta and Philae teams have worked tirelessly to search for the lander, piecing together clues of its location after a series of unfortunate events during its planned landing on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko last November 12. ... Rosetta’s navigation and high-resolution cameras identified the first landing site and also took several pictures of Philae as it traveled above the comet before coming down for a final landing. Magnetic field measurements taken...
  • Rosetta’s Comet Keeps On Jetting Even After the Sun Goes Down

    06/08/2015 6:17:02 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 5 replies
    universetoday.com ^ | on June 8, 2015 | Jason Major
    Images acquired by the OSIRIS instrument aboard ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft in April 2015 reveal that some of the comet’s dust jets keep on firing even after the Sun has “set” across those regions. This shows that, as the comet continues to approach its August perihelion date, it’s now receiving enough solar radiation to warm deeper subsurface materials. ... Comet 67P and Rosetta (and Philae too!) will come within 185.9 million km of the Sun during perihelion on Aug. 13, 2015 before heading back out into the Solar System.
  • Rosetta Discovery of Surprise Molecular Breakup Mechanism in Comet Coma Alters Perceptions

    06/05/2015 10:40:38 AM PDT · by BenLurkin · 16 replies
    universetoday.com ^ | June 4, 2015 | Ken Kremer on
    Rosetta spacecraft has made a very surprising discovery – namely that the molecular breakup mechanism of “water and carbon dioxide molecules spewing from the comet’s surface” into the atmosphere of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is caused by “electrons close to the surface.” The surprising results relating to the emission of the comet coma came from measurements gathered by the probes NASA funded Alice instrument and is causing scientists to completely rethink what we know about the wandering bodies, according to the instruments science team. “The discovery we’re reporting is quite unexpected,” said Alan Stern, principal investigator for the Alice instrument at the...
  • OSIRIS discovers balancing rock on 67P

    05/19/2015 4:24:15 PM PDT · by OK Sun · 19 replies
    Max Planck Institute ^ | May 18, 2015 | Max Planck Institute
    Scientists from Rosetta’s OSIRIS team have discovered an extraordinary formation on the larger lobe of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in the Aker region. From a group of three boulders the largest one with a diameter of approximately 30 meters stands out: images obtained on 16 September 2014 from a distance of 29 kilometers with the help of Rosetta’s scientific imaging system OSIRIS show it to perch on the rim of a small depression. There seems to be only a very small contact area with the nucleus. Similar geological formations are found also on Earth. So-called balancing rocks touch the underground with only...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Comet Churyumov Gerasimenko in Crescent

    04/29/2015 9:23:34 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 14 replies
    NASA ^ | April 29, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What's happening to Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko? As the 3-km wide comet moves closer to the Sun, heat causes the nucleus to expel gas and dust. The Rosetta spacecraft arrived at the comet's craggily double nucleus last July and now is co-orbiting the Sun with the giant dark iceberg. Recent analysis of data beamed back to Earth from the robotic Rosetta spacecraft has shown that water being expelled by 67P has a significant difference with water on Earth, indicating that Earth's water could not have originated from ancient collisions with comets like 67P. Additionally, neither Rosetta nor its Philae lander detected...
  • (Prince) Madoc In America

    07/10/2003 5:56:52 PM PDT · by blam · 75 replies · 7,275+ views
    Madoc In AmericaNative American Histories in the USA Is truth stranger than fiction? Of course it is; it always has been One subject that has been debated for the last four hundred years was whether or not a Khumric-Welsh Prince called Madoc discovered America. Queen Elizabeth I was persuaded by her advisors that this was so and the Khumric-Welsh discovery was put forward as somehow giving England a prior claim in the political wrangles over first rights in the New World of the Americas. No one ever thought to investigate the British records. Caradoc of Llancarfan wrote about it circa...
  • Rosetta's comet is spinning down

    03/20/2015 1:27:12 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 11 replies
    bbc ^ | Jonathan Amos
    "The gas jets coming out of the comet - they are acting like thrusters and are slowing down the comet," said flight director Andrea Accomazzo. The European Space Agency official was speaking this week at the Royal Aeronautical Society in London. He was describing how his team has learnt to fly Rosetta around the 10-billion-tonne, 4km-wide body with remarkable precision. Navigators use a system of landmarks on the comet to understand how it is rotating and moving through space. This information is fed into a model that helps plan a trajectory for the satellite. And it was while running this...
  • Telescope spots unusual comet 'never seen before' as it SURVIVES close encounter with the sun

    03/05/2015 6:47:38 AM PST · by EBH · 18 replies
    UK Daily Mail ^ | 2/25/2015 | Richard Gray
    An unusual comet that is unlike anything seen before by scientists is expected to become visible from Earth in the coming weeks. Nasa and the European Space Agency's Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, also called SOHO, spotted the comet as it skimmed past the sun. The is not thought to belong to any known family of comets and scientists have been left baffled as to how it survived its close encounter with the sun. Most comets that come that close do not survive the trip, according to solar scientists who study images beamed back by SOHO. Yet this comet managed to...
  • Dark Energy Camera Takes Accidental Gigantic, Magnificent Picture of Comet Lovejoy

    02/27/2015 11:32:31 AM PST · by BenLurkin · 13 replies
    universetoday.com ^ | Nancy Atkinson
    On December 27, 2014, while the Dark Energy Survey was scanning the southern sky, C2014 Q2 entered the camera’s view. Each of the rectangular shapes above represents one of the 62 individual fields of the camera. At the time this image was taken, the comet was passing about 82 million km (51 million miles) from Earth. That’s a short distance for the Dark Energy Camera, which is sensitive to light up to 8 billion light years away. The comet’s center is a ball of ice roughly 5 km (3 miles) across, and the visible head of the comet is a...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Long Lovejoy and Little Dumbbell

    02/27/2015 4:58:58 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 2 replies
    NASA ^ | February 27, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Buffeted by the solar wind, Comet Lovejoy's crooked ion tail stretches over 3 degrees across this telescopic field of view, recorded on February 20. The starry background includes awesome bluish star Phi Persei below, and pretty planetary nebula M76 just above Lovejoy's long tail. Also known as the Little Dumbbell Nebula, after its brighter cousin M27 the Dumbbell Nebula, M76 is only a Full Moon's width away from the comet's greenish coma. Still shining in northern hemisphere skies, this Comet Lovejoy (C/2014 Q2) is outbound from the inner solar system some 10 light-minutes or 190 million kilometers from Earth....
  • Thunderbolts.info — Rosetta Mission Update | 67P's Mysterious Water Production

    02/21/2015 2:30:22 AM PST · by Swordmaker · 5 replies
    CLICK ON THE PICTURE FOR THE VIDEO REPORT: Video Report on the Electric Universe Explanation for the findings on 67P's Mysterious Water Production
  • Rosetta space probe takes sharp, close-up images of comet

    02/16/2015 8:09:47 AM PST · by Citizen Zed · 38 replies
    whdh / ap ^ | 2-16-2015
    The European Space Agency says high-resolution images the Rosetta space probe took during a swoop close to a comet it's been tracking for months show boulders on the comet's surface as well as "stunning details of the contrasting terrain." The agency said Monday the boulders ranged in size from a few meters (yards) to a few tens of meters, and lie "scattered across the whole surface of the comet." It says the sun was directly behind Rosetta as the pictures were taken, providing optimal light conditions.
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Jets from Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko

    02/03/2015 6:44:09 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | February 03, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Where do comet tails come from? Although it is common knowledge that comet tails and comas originate from comet nuclei, exactly how that happens is an active topic of research. One of the best images yet of emerging jets is shown in the featured image, taken last November by the robotic Rosetta spacecraft in orbit around the Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (Comet CG), and released last month. The overexposed picture shows plumes of gas and dust escaping numerous places from the Comet CG's nucleus as it nears the Sun and heats up. Although Comet CG is currently further out from the...
  • Latest Research Reveals a Bizarre and Vibrant Rosetta’s Comet

    01/24/2015 8:47:49 PM PST · by BenLurkin · 9 replies
    Despite its solid appearance, 67P is highly porous with a density similar to wood or cork and orbited by a cloud of approximately 100,000 “grains” of material larger than 2 inches (5 cm) across stranded there after the comet’s previous perihelion passage. ... Researchers have identified 19 distinct geological regions on the comet and five basic types of terrain: dust-covered, brittle material, large-scale depressions, smooth terrains and consolidated surfaces. ... Using a spectrometer to scan the comet’s surface researchers discovered complex organic (carbon-based) molecules that could include carboxylic acids – a component of amino acids. These organics only form in...
  • Cosmic Impacts May Have Seeded Early Earth with Ingredients for Life

    01/24/2015 6:09:58 PM PST · by Ernest_at_the_Beach · 38 replies
    space.com Astrobiology Magazine ^ | | January 20, 2015 03:37pm ET | By Charles Q. Choi, Astrobiology Magazine
    A picture of the gun used in the experiments. The big white box at the left end of the gun is where the target is stored. Credit: Impact Laboratory, University of Kent Bullets of ice shot at high speeds can deposit organic compounds on surfaces they strike. New findings suggest that comets might, indeed, have helped deliver key ingredients of life to Earth and perhaps elsewhere, researchers say. The scientists detailed their findings in the June 13 issue of the journal Astrobiology.Craters on the moon are evidence that the Inner Solar System was prone to giant impacts from asteroids...
  • There’s a Crack Forming on Rosetta’s 67P. Is it Breaking Up?

    01/24/2015 9:28:22 AM PST · by BenLurkin · 36 replies
    universetoday.com ^ | on January 24, 2015 | Tim Reyes
    The crack, or fissure, could spell the beginning of the end for comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. It is located in the neck area, in the region named Hapi, between the two lobes that make 67P appear so much like a Rubber Duck from a distance. The fissure could represent a focal point of many properties and forces at work, such as the rotation rate and axis – basically head over heels of the comet. The fissure lies in the most active area at present, and possibly the most active area overall. Though the Hapi region appears to receive nearly constant sunlight, at...
  • See a Rare Comet-Moon Conjunction Tonight

    01/24/2015 9:21:38 AM PST · by BenLurkin · 14 replies
    universetoday.com ^ | January 23, 2015 | Bob King on
    Many of you already know about the triple shadow transit of Jupiter’s moons Io, Europa and Callisto. That’s scheduled for late tonight. Earlier, around nightfall, the crescent moon will lie 1° or less to the south-southwest of comet 15P/Finlay. No doubt lunar glare will hamper the view some, but what a fun opportunity to use the moon to find a comet. Finlay underwent a flare in brightness last week when it became easily visible in binoculars.
  • Strange Comet Discoveries Revealed by Rosetta Spacecraft

    01/23/2015 7:39:21 AM PST · by BenLurkin · 54 replies
    Space.com ^ | January 22, 2015 02:03pm ET | Miriam Kramer,
    Researchers working with Rosetta have found that the comet harbors organic compounds, carbon-based molecules that are sometimes known as the chemical building blocks of life. This marks the first time organic molecules have been detected on the surface of a comet's nucleus, according to Fabrizio Capaccioni, the principal investigator of the VIRTIS instrument on Rosetta. The northern hemisphere of the comet's nucleus is also filled with dunes and ripples that look somewhat like geological markings on Earth, Mars and Venus. Comet 67P/C-G doesn't have a robust atmosphere and high gravity like those planets, and yet it still has structures resembling...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Launch to Lovejoy

    01/22/2015 11:42:36 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | January 22, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Blasting skyward an Atlas V rocket carrying a U.S. Navy satellite pierces a cloud bank in this starry night scene captured on January 20. On its way to orbit from Space Launch Complex 41, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, planet Earth, the rocket streaks past brightest star Sirius, as seen from a dark beach at Canaveral National Seashore. Above the alpha star of Canis Major, Orion the Hunter strikes a pose familiar to northern winter skygazers. Above Orion is the V-shaped Hyades star cluster, head of Taurus the Bull, and farther still above Taurus it's easy to spot the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Complex Ion Tail of Comet Lovejoy

    01/21/2015 2:52:55 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | January 21, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What causes the structure in Comet Lovejoy's tail? Comet C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy), which is currently at naked-eye brightness and near its brightest, has been showing an exquisitely detailed ion tail. As the name implies, the ion tail is made of ionized gas -- gas energized by ultraviolet light from the Sun and pushed outward by the solar wind. The solar wind is quite structured and sculpted by the Sun's complex and ever changing magnetic field. The effect of the variable solar wind combined with different gas jets venting from the comet's nucleus accounts for the tail's complex structure. Following...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Comet Lovejoy's Tail

    01/17/2015 8:42:18 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 7 replies
    NASA ^ | January 17, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Sweeping north in planet Earth's sky, Comet Lovejoy's greenish coma and blue tinted ion tail stretched across this field of stars in the constellation Taurus on January 13. The inset at the upper left shows the 1/2 degree angular size of the full moon for scale. So Lovejoy's coma appears only a little smaller (but much fainter) than a full moon on the sky, and its tail is visible for over 4 degrees across the frame. That corresponds to over 5 million kilometers at the comet's estimated distance of 75 million kilometers from Earth. Blown by the solar wind,...
  • Astronomers are Predicting at Least Two More Large Planets in the Solar System

    01/15/2015 3:45:27 PM PST · by BenLurkin · 77 replies
    universetoday.com ^ | on January 15, 2015 | Nancy Atkinson
    In their studies, the team analyzed the effects of what is called the ‘Kozai mechanism,’ which is related to the gravitational perturbation that a large body exerts on the orbit of another much smaller and further away object. They looked at how the highly eccentric comet 96P/Machholz1 is influenced by Jupiter (it will come near the orbit of Mercury in 2017, but it travels as much as 6 AU at aphelion) and it may “provide the key to explain the puzzling clustering of orbits around argument of perihelion close to 0° recently found for the population of ETNOs,” the team...
  • Comet Lovejoy (C/2014 Q2) Lights January Skies, Won’t Return for 8,000 Years

    01/06/2015 4:10:54 PM PST · by Jack Hydrazine · 33 replies
    Indian Country Today Media Network ^ | 6JAN2015 | ICTMN Staff Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2015/01/06/comet-lovejoy-lights-j
    It’s being called the New Year’s Comet, a fuzzy green ball named Comet Lovejoy that is cruising past Mother Earth as we speak and is scheduled to become visible to the naked eye starting midweek. The name Comet Lovejoy may ring a bell; one of its namesakes was last in Earth’s vicinity three years ago, when it survived a death plunge into the sun in 2011, then emerged to grow a new tail. That was C/2011 W3 (Lovejoy). The latest entry into our field of vision is the fifth comet discovery for amateur astronomy Terry Lovejoy of Australia, according to...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- This Comet Lovejoy

    12/25/2014 4:29:32 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 20 replies
    NASA ^ | December 25, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Comet Lovejoy, C/2014 Q2, is framed like a cosmic Christmas tree with starry decorations in this colorful telescopic portrait, snapped on December 16th. Its lovely coma is tinted green by diatomic C2 gas fluorescing in sunlight. Discovered in August of this year, this Comet Lovejoy is currently sweeping north through the constellation Columba, heading for Lepus south of Orion and bright enough to offer good binocular views. Not its first time through the inner Solar System, this Comet Lovejoy will pass closest to planet Earth on January 7, while its perihelion (closest point to the Sun) will be on...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Comet Lovejoy over the Great Wall

    02/20/2014 3:29:47 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | February 20, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Fading now as it returns to the outer solar system Comet Lovejoy (C/2013 R1) still graces planet Earth's sky, a delicate apparition in binoculars or small telescopes. The comet, a relic of the solar system's formative years, is seen here rising in the morning twilight on January 12 among the stars of Ophiuchus, the Serpent Bearer. Posing near the comet is bright star Alpha Ophiuchi, also known as Rasalhague, from Arabic "the head of the serpent collector". Of course, the serpentine shape below is the ancient Great Wall of China, along the Panlongshan section northeast of Beijing. Panlongshan is...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Lovejoy in the New Year

    01/04/2014 12:44:17 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 1 replies
    NASA ^ | January 03, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: A rival to vanquished Comet ISON in 2013, Comet Lovejoy (C/2013 R1) still sweeps through early morning skies, captured in this starry scene on New Year's day. The frame stretches some 3.5 degrees (about 7 full moons) across a background of faint stars in the constellation Hercules. Only just visible to the naked eye from dark sites before dawn, Lovejoy remains a good target for the northern hemisphere's binocular equipped skygazers. But this deep exposure shows off Lovejoy's beautiful tails and tantalizing greenish coma better than binocular views. Not a sungrazer, this Comet Lovejoy made its closest approach to...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Comet Lovejoy Over a Windmill

    12/09/2013 5:28:01 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 21 replies
    NASA ^ | December 09, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Lovejoy continues to be an impressive camera comet. Pictured above, Comet C/2013 R1 (Lovejoy) was imaged above the windmill in Saint-Michel-l'Observatoire in southern France with a six-second exposure. In the foreground is a field of lavender. Comet Lovejoy should remain available for photo opportunities for northern observers during much of December and during much of the night, although it will be fading as the month progresses and highest in the sky before sunrise. In person, the comet will be best viewed with binoculars. A giant dirty snowball, Comet Lovejoy last visited the inner Solar System about 7,000 years ago,...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Comet Lovejoy through Mörby Castle Ruins

    12/04/2013 8:11:38 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 7 replies
    NASA ^ | December 04, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: This new comet is quite photogenic. Comet Lovejoy, discovered only three months ago, was imaged through ruins of ancient Mörby Castle in Sweden last week sporting a green-glowing coma and tails trailing several degrees. The past few weeks have been an unusually active time for comet watchers as four comets were visible simultaneously with binoculars: ISON, Lovejoy, Encke, and LINEAR. C/2013 R1 (Lovejoy) comet is currently visible to the unaided eye from a dark location. As Monday's new Moon will provide little glare, the next few days provide a good time to see Comet Lovejoy as it reaches its...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Comet Lovejoy Before Galaxy M63

    12/02/2013 8:49:44 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 2 replies
    NASA ^ | December 02, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Comet Lovejoy was captured last week passing well in front of spiral galaxy M63. Discovered only three months ago and currently near its maximum brightness, Comet Lovejoy can be seen near the Big Dipper from dark northerly locations before dawn with the unaided eye. An unexpected rival to Comet ISON, C/2013 R1 (Lovejoy), pictured above, is currently sporting a large green coma and a beautifully textured ion tail. Comet Lovejoy is now headed back to the outer Solar System but should remain a good sight in binoculars for another few weeks. Conversely, spiral galaxy M63, lies far in the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Comet Lovejoy with M44

    11/09/2013 11:29:50 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 1 replies
    NASA ^ | November 09, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: While anxiously waiting for Comet ISON to brighten further as it falls toward the Sun, northern skygazers can also find three other bright comets in the east before dawn. In fact, Comet Lovejoy C/2013 R1 is currently the morning sky's brightest. Only discovered in September and not a sungrazing comet, this Comet Lovejoy is nearing the edge of naked-eye visibility and might be spotted from very dark sky sites. Sporting a greenish coma and tail in this telescopic view taken on November 7, Comet Lovejoy is about 0.5 AU from our fair planet and 1.2 AU from the Sun....
  • Video: Close Call in the Corona

    06/09/2013 11:10:06 AM PDT · by neverdem · 11 replies
    ScienceNOW ^ | 6 June 2013 | Sid Perkins
    Credit: Video courtesy of Cooper Downs Deep inside the sun's atmosphere, temperatures reach millions of degrees—so hot that even the best-shielded spacecraft can't go there (even at night). But natural objects that pass exceptionally close to the sun do provide scientists opportunities to directly probe the solar corona. Enter sun-grazing comets, such as comet Lovejoy, which whizzed within 140,000 kilometers of the sun's surface in mid-December 2011 (as seen in the first 20 seconds of the video). When a comet is far from the sun, its tail acts like a weather vane in the solar wind (the torrent of...