From: TerryMoselaol.com Date: 24 October 2007 23:48:24 Oct 2007 Subject: MAJOR!!!! COMET OUTBURST!!!! Hi all, This is hard to believe, but I've seen it with my own eyes! I've just come from an IAA Council meeting (bad timing!), but I saw the comet with binocs in twilight before the meeting, and easily with the unaided eye afterwards, from Belfast! Here's the story...... Comet 17P/Holmes is undergoing a major, spectacular eruption. The 17th-magnitude comet, which is now at 'opposition', has brightened by a factor of five hundred thousand or more during the past 24 hours becoming a naked eye object in the evening sky. This may signify a break-up of the comet's core or a rich vein of ice suddenly exposed to sunlight - no one knows. Look for a yellow 2.5th-magnitude starlike fuzzball in Perseus after sunset. ("2.5th magnitude" means a little dimmer than the stars of the Big Dipper.) At present the comet looks more like a star than a comet, because only the nucleus has brightened - it does not have a discernible tail, but it might grow one as the outburst continues. Tonight it lies close to the star 43 Persei, about 5 degrees East of Alpha Persei. To locate it, take a line from Alpha Persei to Delta Persei, then left at 90 degrees to that line for about 2/3 of that distance - you'll see a bright 'star' that should not be there - that's the comet!!!! At midnight tonight (24/25 Oct), it's at RA 03h 52m 57.9"; Dec + 50 deg 08m 10.6". Tomorrow night (24h) it's at RA 03h 52m 05.0"; Dec + 50deg 12m 34.0" If you have a computer programme, the elements are: Epoch: 2007 May 20.0 TT. T = 2007 May 4.4995 TT q = 2.053169 (2000.0) n = 0.1432508 a = 3.617468 e = 0.432429 i = 19.1132 P = 6.88 (Peri = 24.2585; node = 326.8675) This is an absolutely amazing outburst, and you should see this object if at all possible - no-one knows what will happen next. Clear skies, Terry Moseley Visit spaceweather.com for a sky map, photos and updates.
Last Revised: 2007 October 25th
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