As comet Pan-STARRS heads back out into the depths of the Solar System, it’s become visible to skywatchers in the northern hemisphere (after several weeks of putting on a show in southern skies.) While poor viewing due to weather confounded some over the past few days, many people did get some great views of this cosmic visitor — such as the image above, captured on the night of March 12 by Dr. Travis A. Rector from the Menaker Observatory in Anchorage, Alaska.
“Comet Pan-STARRS is the very faint dot just below the center of the image,” Dr. Rector wrote on his website. “Its tail is pointed towards the upper-left corner. This picture was taken on its greatest elongation from the Sun. Nonetheless it was very hard to see. And nearly impossible to see by the naked eye.”
See a couple more images of Pan-STARRS below:
A newly-discovered comet is on its way into the Sun… can you spot it in the animation above? No? Read on…
Can’t see the video below? Click here.
One of the latest uploads to the Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth site, this short-but-oh-so-sweet video shows the view from the Space Station as it passes over Africa, Madagascar and the southern Indian Ocean at night on December 29, 2011. Multiple lightning storms flash over Africa while the Milky Way rises majestically behind the thin line of Earth’s atmosphere, capped by a greenish layer of airglow. Also making an appearance is Comet Lovejoy, at the time two weeks after its near-fatal sunburn. It can be made out rising near the Milky Way’s right side, its faint tail vertical.
Nearly a week after its last photo event, here’s a shot of Comet Lovejoy seen from the Space Station on December 27.
On its way back out into the solar system after its close run-in with the Sun on December 15, Lovejoy has since sprouted a beautiful gauzy new tail which now precedes it along its path.
The comet was discovered on December 2 by Australian astronomer Terry Lovejoy, and thus bears his name. Rather than being disintegrated on approach to the Sun, it survived the pass and became a brief sensation among astronomy fans worldwide.
The end is definitely near… for comet Lovejoy, at least. The bright sungrazing comet was discovered on December 2, 2011, by Australian amateur astronomer Terry Lovejoy using a ground-based telescope. It was quickly seen that the comet was on a doomsday dive toward the Sun and will not likely survive its close pass of our home star during the next several hours.
UPDATE: Lovejoy Lives! The comet re-emerged from the other side of the Sun after passing behind it tonight… this is one tough little traveler! See its revival here.
So long, Elenin, and thanks for all the conspiracy theories! The comet that has been the subject of so much unfounded fearful speculation since its discovery in December 2010 will be making its closest pass of Earth tomorrow, October 16 – and when they say closest it means 22 million miles, or almost a third of the distance to the Sun! Then again, what’s left of it will be passing by Earth. Based on recent observations – like the images from Mike Mattiazzo above and below from the comet’s discoverer, Leonid Elenin – it seems it may have pretty much fallen apart.
”Folks are having trouble finding it, so I think it’s probably dead and gone.”
– Don Yeomans, JPL
First, watch this sequence:
What is it? It’s an animation made from images taken by ESA’s SOHO solar observatory showing a comet diving into the Sun on October 1, and then a large CME (coronal mass ejection) erupting immediately thereafter.
Now, typically science has said that there is no connection between comets impacting the Sun and CMEs, or any other major eruption event. Comets are just too small to cause something like that to occur. Right?
RIght?? Read the rest of this entry