02-17-2009, 07:30 PM #1
Backward green comet makes one-time only visit
WASHINGTON – An odd, greenish backward-flying comet is zipping by Earth this month, as it takes its only trip toward the sun from the farthest edges of the solar system. The comet is called Lulin, and there's a chance it can be seen with the naked eye — far from city lights, astronomers say.
But you'll most likely need a telescope, or at least binoculars, to spot it.
The best opportunity is just before dawn one-third of the way up the southern sky. It should be near Saturn and two bright stars, Spica and Regula.
On Monday at 10:43 p.m. EST, it will be 38 million miles from Earth, the closest it will ever get, according to Donald Yeomans, manager of NASA's Near Earth Object program.
While all the planets and most of the other objects in the solar system circle the sun counterclockwise, Lulin circles clockwise, said NASA astronomer Stephen Edberg. And thanks to an optical illusion, from Earth it appears as if the comet's tail is in the front as the comet approaches Earth and the sun.
On the Net:
NASA on Comet Lulin: http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2009/04feb_greencomet.htm
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02-18-2009, 09:11 PM #2
Thanks for the link, DK! Hope that we have a clear night for viewing. *Rummaging around for February issue of Astronomy*
02-18-2009, 10:09 PM #3Registered User
- Join Date
- Aug 2005
- The South, USA
Huh...I'll definitely look for it. Wonder if I can get the kids up that early?
Mr. Mr. E and I saw a mysterious green light in the sky once, in the springtime about a year ago. It was just this green blob that seemed to fall toward the horizon, then disappear. It was weird. We never could figure out what it was.
02-18-2009, 10:13 PM #4
DC weather has stopped me from doing early morning observations of Comet Lulin. BUT, www.spaceweather.com has an extensive Comet Lulin archive where a lot of astronomers have sent in their images... that is the extent of my observation of the comet, thus far. LoL
02-18-2009, 10:15 PM #5
Oh, on todays front page of Spaceweather is a gif someone compiled of the comet moving along... pretty nifty watching some of the tail being ripped off by solar wind!
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