Sunday, February 22, 2009

Opportunity To Witness A Green Comet Monday


Comet Lulin


I enjoy astronomy.

Usually, I can't remember the stars or what galaxy is where but I do enjoy sitting out under the night sky with binoculars or our telescope and watching the heavens. Living so far out in the country we get many opportunities to do this. That's one of many reasons we don't have a yard light plus they contribute to the light pollution.

Tomorrow night (Monday 23rd) there is a very special event. Let's let the experts explain further ...

"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.

The story behind the comet is more intriguing than its appearance — the greenish tinge may be hard for many to discern. The color comes from a type of carbon and cyanogen, a poisonous gas.

Lulin was discovered by a Chinese teenager two years ago. It still has many of its original gases — gases that are usually stripped away as comets near the sun. Unlike most comets viewable from Earth, this one hasn't been this close to the sun before, Yeomans said.

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.

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.

"It essentially is going backwards through the solar system," he said.

It came from the outskirts of the solar system, 18 trillion miles away. Once it's made the journey around the sun, Lulin will gain enough speed to escape the solar system, Edberg said.

"If you are interested in comets, make sure you see it," he said. "But it's not going to be a real great blast for the general public."

Source: FoxNews Article

I couldn't find the star "Regula" referred to above (I believe it's a typo) but I did find a Regulus.

So, let's watch the heavens tomorrow evening. Who knows what wonders we'll experience!?

♥ ∞

11 comments:

Mildred said...

Thank you for sharing; very interesting.

Janeen said...

I'm always up before the dawn but sadly we are supposed to have a storm coming through. I just looked out the window and it's softly raining right now. Bummer! I'll have to live the experience through you!

Tea Time With Melody said...

I love it too and even took it in college. But it was a bad class to take because it is in the planetarium and every time they turned off the lights and we had to lean back to look at the ceiling I fell ASLEEP! I often think about that class and what I would have learned if I could stay awake. LOL

Iva said...

Too cool! I just cannot believe how people can believe that there isn't a Creator - our universe (and beyond) is just too great!

MuseSwings said...

There's so much light interference here I'm lucky to see most of the big dipper most nights. Because of this I haven't been keeping up on celestial events as I used to. Thanks for the info though, and yes - I'm sure that was a typo for Regulus too.

Sparky ♥ ∞ said...

Thanks y'all for stopping by! I've got loads to tell you about our trip to western SC. And I'll be visiting and playing "catch up" with your fun posts soon. Have a wonderful evening. :o) ♥ ∞

Carey's Corner said...

Just stopping by to read your post and to let you know my second round of tests were very good also. Thanks for y'alls concern and prayers.

Sparky ♥ ∞ said...

Excellent Carey!!! You DO have our prayers and so happy it has pleased God to give you good results. God bless. :o) ♥ ∞

girlsinwhitedresses said...

Thanks for the heads-up; I didn't know about this! Now the bigger question is, can I stay up until 10:43? Hmmmm :)
Susan

Linda said...

COOL! That would be 9:43 here, lol. Nice to see you back from your trip, Sparky. Blessings

Rosezilla said...

Oh, 10:43 I can do! It's the "just before dawn" part that would be difficult. I remember back in the 70s going to the beach to see a comet. It never showed up though. My sis and I wrote a stupid poem about it.