Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Comet 17P/Holmes is Getting Bigger!


Comet Holmes October 25th. 2007, 200x


Comet Holmes October 27th. 2007, 200x



Comet Holmes October 28th. 2007, 200x



Comet Holmes October 29th. 2007 ,200x

I took the above images over a five day span to show how much it has grown in such a short amount of time, all at the same time every night and at the same magnification.

The Blogs and Message Boards are all abuzz with all kinds of theories and ideas about the expansion of this odd comet. One theory I never thought of is that someone had mentioned that this expansion and the Shuttle launch occurred around the same time and that the whereabouts of Bruce Willis at this time is unknown, I laughed til I stopped at that one.


Comet Holmes is from what they call "Jupiter's family of comets". It is a short period comet and completes one orbit around Jupiter and the Sun every 7 years. Right now it is approximately 246 million kms. distant from the Earth, it had its closest approach to the Sun last May and will be its closest to Earth around November 7th. when it will be 243 million kms. distant, so no worries about it crashing into us, one of the theories why there is no tail is that we can't see it cause it's heading straight for us.


Scientists don't really know why all of a sudden it got a million times brighter but they figured it happened once before back in 1892 allowing British astronomer Edwin Holmes to discover it. A comet has a honeycomb framework of solid particles enclosed in ice, one theory is that some of the comet's ice sublimated when it was closer to the Sun exposing a portion of it's core and just last week becoming unstable enough so that it's gravitational field could no longer hold it together and it broke up releasing massive amounts of dust, (which would account for the yellow/orange color), as well as releasing gases such as carbon monoxide.





Where is this comet and how can you find it? The above picture shows you where to look. Go outside just as it is getting dark, look to the North East about half way up from the horizon, you will see a bright yellow star like object, that would be Holmes, it is just down and to the left of Mirfak in the constellation Perseus. No one is really quite sure how long it will be visible, could be 3 weeks or longer, right now it is still in the growing stage, may even grow a tail who knows.

I'll leave you with a clip that a fellow amateur astronomer/astrophotography friend Tenho Tuomi made up of my images to give you a better idea the growth of this fascinating comet. Check out his website he lives outside of town and has some great astro images he has taken throughout the years. Just click on the image below and away you go.



31 comments:

self taught artist said...

i come here when i want to yank my thoughts away from my trivial pile of dog doo. i'm glad i saw this, it woke me up to bigger things :)

Nature Nut /JJ Loch said...

Bob,

What amazing photos and post about Comet 17P Holmes sudden enlargement. Absolutely fascinating!!!

Hugs,JJ

Bob Johnson said...

Glad you liked it Paula, I think we all need something to yank our thoughts from our own trivial pile of dog doo.

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks JJ! it is one of the oddest comets we will see for some time.

kml said...

This does seem to be a strange one - no tail, and it keeps growing. Will be interesting to see what happens with it.

Bob Johnson said...

Hi Kathy, I guess no one really knows for sure, hopefully keeps expanding so more people can view it, I just wish everybody could see it through a scope

Anna said...

Wow, Bob, you are right your comment picked up some friends - great photos. I think I saw it, it was only yellow bright star above the horizon - but I will study your sky map to make sure. BTW don't you get it Bob, no tail and it is getting bigger - it is heading in your direction, run, lol.

On my way out for sky viewing - weather been very nice lately. Anna :)

I am a lover of children's literature said...

How fascinating and intriguing. Can't wait to get more info on what is happening. Thanks for the post and update.

Will said...

Whew! I'm glad you mentioned the closet distance to earth will be 243 million kms. I was getting worried looking at the pictures.

I envy your knowledge of the skies. I have always been very interested and spend a lot of time looking up at night. But... I have never been able to clearly see what is really there. I can point out Orion and the Big Dipper and Pleiades, which I know is in Taurus. But, that is about it. And I have had many knowledgeable people try to educate me. I just literally can't see it the way they do.

-Will

Bob Johnson said...

Hi Anna, early in the evening it is about half way up from the horizon in the northeast sky, it actually looks like a fuzzy yellowish star, I think you've got it, if you get binocs from someone you will see a larger fuzzy circle, now excuse me while a walk, no run to our bunker!

Bob Johnson said...

Hi Don, I didn't get out tonight to see whats up, I'm hoping it will keep on getting bigger for the next little while before it fades away in a few weeks.

Bob Johnson said...

Hi Will, I too to start with couldn't see the constellations or anything else, but over time you get use to the large sizes of the constellations in the real sky and believe it or not you will be naming stars.

Tatiana said...

Thanks a lot for such an informative post about the Holmes comet Bob, and the great shots and explanation :) Your friend made a great sequence of your photos too :) I wonder though what is about to happen with this comet due to it's growth...And is it possible to get so big that it explodes perhaps?

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Tatiana, it may explode again, but I think that it is getting bigger just because of the shock wave pushing out the dust and gasses from the original explosion, I think it will enventually die down in a few weeks.

Franx Budi said...

Bob,this comet is look so bright..usually how far this comet from our planet...look so little
But you catch the great fotograph

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks franx budi, since this comet is always moving, it gets a little farther away then Jupiter, which is about 650 million kms to as close as it is now about 246 million kms.

JD "The Uneasy Supplicant" said...

Great article Bob, excellent images. I'm telling you, I'm learning a mile a minute checking out the articles on your site.
~JD

Bob Johnson said...

Hi JD, thanks, I'm so glad people such as yourself are learning a little more about the cosmos through my posts, afterall thats one of the reasons I started the blog.

Lynda Lehmann said...

Fascinating, Bob! If it's headed straight at us, we may need to find Bruce Willis after all!

You are so knowledgeable. Thanks for your inspiring and educational posts!

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Lynda! glad you enjoyed the post, I'm still looking for Bruce, his people haven't got back to mine yet :))

Anonymous said...

This is so very cool! I must have been snoozing on my space news feeds to have missed this story. I'm so glad I found this.

Bob Johnson said...

Hi anonymous, glad you found it too.

DrowseyMonkey said...

Excellent post bob. Love the photography, you're just amazing. I have to say that last effect is kinda scary! Yikes!

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks drowsey, it is still getting bigger and is now really easy to find half way up in the NE sky at dusk, very cool.

Mighty Morgan said...

I have been seeing something that i think may be this comet in the sky. Love the pictures as well as the history you provided....also loved the whole missing Bruce Willis theory :)

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks mighty morgan, I kinda like the Bruce Willis spin too, :))

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this link, but unfortunately it seems to be down... Does anybody have a mirror or another source? Please answer to my post if you do!

I would appreciate if a staff member here at blackholesandastrostuff.blogspot.com could post it.

Thanks,
William

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing the link, but argg it seems to be offline... Does anybody have a mirror or another source? Please reply to my message if you do!

I would appreciate if a staff member here at blackholesandastrostuff.blogspot.com could repost it.

Thanks,
Jack

Anonymous said...

Hello,

Thanks for sharing this link - but unfortunately it seems to be not working? Does anybody here at blackholesandastrostuff.blogspot.com have a mirror or another source?


Cheers,
Daniel

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