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Old 28-10-2007, 01:29 AM   #1
tx4
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Default Astronomy Alert: EXPLODED COMET!

(Hope this is the right section; it did not seem to fit any of the others.)

Wow, take a look at Perseus, to the NE after sunset in the Northern Hemispher. A comet apparently exploded or something about four days ago, and is this distinct fuzzy spot "near" the brighest star of Perseus. Just about to take my telescope out for a closer look.

See this link for more details and a link to a finder chart.

http://www.spaceweather.com/
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Old 28-10-2007, 01:01 AM   #2
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Okay, maybe I should not say "wow" except I was directing it at other amateur astronomers. If you have a good pair of binoculars, or a decent low-magnification telescope, this is quite interesting. It has a distinct outer region, a brighter inner region, and a bright pinpoint in the center. It is all very circular-looking, and does rather look like something which exploded.

Without magnification, it won't look like much except maybe in dark skies (i.e. away from cities). Still, very interesting.
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Old 28-10-2007, 02:04 AM   #3
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Best-off in 'A Matter of Balance' (General discussion of all other non sci-fi hardware and subject matter).
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Old 28-10-2007, 02:17 AM   #4
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Eagle: Ah, thanks, I missed that somehow when reading the descriptions.
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Old 28-10-2007, 09:09 AM   #5
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That's pretty darn cool. The explanation is interesting too. I like the image of an comet riddled with sinkholes or perforated like swiss-cheese. Collapse a piece, expose all that ice to the sun, and <poof> !
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Old 28-10-2007, 12:26 PM   #6
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Default More detail

For the record (in this thread), it is Comet Holmes (Comet 17P).

Last night, the brief blurb at SpaceWeather indicated no one was sure what triggered its eruption; but check out the site this morning. There is a lot more information and speculation (including the description Cricket mentioned), and now, they have determined the outer disk of erupted material has expanded to larger than Jupiter! At the moment I write this, the site's front page has an animated GIF image of its expansion, with Jupiter inserted in the image to scale.

Also, there is now a more specific page for Comet Holmes:

http://www.spaceweather.com/comets/gallery_holmes.html

I'll have to try getting to a darker-sky location tonight to see what it looks with my own eyes, free of city glare, as well as have another telescope viewing.

Though not the largest comet, is has to be the most unusual-looking comet I have seen yet, and is well worth a look, I think, if you have any observing equipment or just a curiosity to see it there. Even if you can't, you might enjoy checking out the links above.

Last edited by tx4; 28-10-2007 at 12:29 PM. Reason: clarifications
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Old 28-10-2007, 02:06 PM   #7
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It's a shame there is a full moon at the moment. I saw the comet, but the moonlight really washed out that section of the sky. (What's the moon still doing in orbit, anway? It's 2007 for pete's sake!)

Hope this comet stays bright for a while longer.
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Old 28-10-2007, 05:09 PM   #8
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It's been cloudy the last couple of days in the Netherlands. As soon as it's clear I'm going to take out my telescope and check it out.
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