Slooh space camera to broadcast a live view of comets converging in the night-sky

Oct 22, 2012

A fantastic, one-of-a-kind celestial happening will occur on Tuesday, October 23rd, as Comet 168P/Hergenrother and Comet C/2012 J1 (Catalina) will pass each other in space like ships in the night—but only during a very narrow viewing window. Slooh Space Camera will provide live coverage of this spectacular event on Tuesday, October 23rd, live on Slooh.com, free to the public starting at 2 p.m. PDT / 5 p.m. EDT / 21:00 UTC—accompanied by real-time discussions with Slooh President Patrick Paolucci, Slooh Outreach Coordinator Paul Cox, and Astronomy Magazine columnist Bob Berman. Viewers can watch live on their PC or iOS/Android mobile device.

Slooh was first alerted to this unusual event by long-time Slooh member Maynard Pittendreig; he and other members have been tracking both comets. The comets will appear close in the sky to fall within the reach of a single field-of-view of Slooh's robotic telescopes. The pair will have an apparent separation of 43.5 arcminutes, as shown in this sky chart: goo.gl/hq8hK

168P/Hergenrother has been through a number of "outbursts" over the last 6-weeks. Each of these unexpected increases in brightness has been witnessed and actively imaged by Slooh members. The outbursts could be a sign that the is starting to break apart, which is why the comet is being observed every night by Slooh members.

Comet C/2012 J1 (Catalina) has been a superb contrast to Hergenrother; exhibiting a far more stable and expected increase in brightness as it orbits the Sun. Both comets have shown relatively bright comas and small tails.

Astronomy Magazine's Bob Berman says, "It's comet fiesta time for astronomers—and the public. Here Slooh will simultaneously watch two comets as they dramatically zoom in opposite directions in the same field of view! Next year at this time, Comet ISON should become a naked-eye wonder. And a few months after that, the Rosetta Mission has its rendezvous—and eventual landing on—yet another comet. Edmund Halley's ghost is probably smiling."

Comet 168P/Hergenrother was originally discovered by Carl W. Hergenrother on 22 November 1998. A periodic comet, it has an orbital period of 6.923 years. It last reached perihelion (its closest approach to the Sun) on 1 October 2012.

Comet C/2012 J1 (Catalina) was discovered by A. R. Gibbs of the Catalina Sky Survey on 13 May 2012. The CSS is a prolific comet discoverer as it searches for near-Earth objects as part of its government mandate. Classified as a "hyperbolic comet", C/2012 J1 won't return to the inner solar system within the next 200-years. It will continue to brighten as it reaches perihelion on 7 December 2012.

Explore further: Explainer: What makes the spring equinox?

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Asteroid 2012 TC4 to buzz Earth on October 12

Oct 12, 2012

Asteroid 2012 TC4 will give Earth a relatively close shave on October 12, 2012, passing at just a quarter of the distance to the orbit of the Moon. Discovered by Pan-STARRS observatory in Hawaii just last ...

Comet Visible During Brief Visit

Jun 21, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Comet McNaught is quickly approaching the sun this week, but it is visible with binoculars or telescopes in the early hours before dawn. The best views are away from city lights, according ...

1000th sungrazing comet discovered by SOHO

Aug 10, 2006

Polish amateur comet hunter Arkadiusz Kubczak recently discovered his third comet in SOHO LASCO coronagraph images, but this one was special: the 1000th SOHO comet discovery in the Kreutz group of sungrazing ...

Comet Pan-STARRS: How bright will it get?

Sep 06, 2012

Early next year, a comet will come fairly close to Earth and the Sun—traveling within the orbit of Mercury—and it has the potential to be visible to the naked eye. Amateur and professional astronomers ...

Recommended for you

NASA launches RapidScat wind watcher to Space Station

1 hour ago

A new NASA mission that will boost global monitoring of ocean winds for improved weather forecasting and climate studies is among about 5,000 pounds (2,270 kilograms) of NASA science investigations and cargo ...

An anomaly in satellite flybys confounds scientists

3 hours ago

When space probes, such as Rosetta and Cassini, fly over certain planets and moons in order to gain momentum and travel long distances, their speed changes slightly for an unknown reason. A Spanish researcher ...

User comments : 0