Friday, October 26, 2007

Comet Holmes


Edwin Holmes was doing some observing of the Andromeda Galaxy and discovered comet Holmes way back in 1892, you know the story, you find it, it gets named after you. Just last Tuesday it started getting very bright, like about 1 million times brighter! Scientists figure the only way it could have gotten that bright that fast is through a major out gassing and releasing major particles from its nucleus. I took the image above last night, it is at 400x you can see it's pretty weird shaped for a comet, round and all, and the comet nucleus a star like appearance in the middle, you can make out it's tail pointing away from the Sun. It will be visible to the naked eye for at least the next week. You can spot it in the NE sky after it gets dark. It is just to the west of the star Mirfak in the constellation Perseus. It is quite easy to find, looks like an orange yellow star. Check out Rick's Deep Sky Blog, he has an interesting post on the comet as well.



I took a pic of my set up last night. I had just taken some pics of the comet and was now taking some highly magnified images of Moon craters, in fact if you look at my sucky VISTA operated computer in the pod you can see the Moon being imaged. A real cool thing that happened to me, I submitted one of my photos of the comet to Sky and Telescope magazine's website, and it got chosen to be added to their photo section, not only in one of their regular categories, which is an honor in itself, but as an Editors Choice. Who knows for how long it will be there because they get billions of pictures everyday, and the Editors choice is for all the categories. I'm sure it will be around for a while in the Comet Holmes area.



So far so good for the Shuttle Discovery. Successful launch and they are now docked with the ISS. They have mounted a camera on a special boom extension and attached it to their robot arm and used it to examine the Shuttle's underside for damage. Apparently a piece of foam from the external fuel tank fell off and hit the Shuttle during the ascent stage. The preliminary findings are good, no damage. I am watching NASA TV right now, they are into their first spacewalk, actually they just finished stowing a broken space station antenna in the Shuttle's payload bay, they are now preparing the Harmony Node for installation. Speaking of which the above pic is of the Harmony Node in the Shuttle's payload bay.

38 comments:

Danny said...

Fascinating! I'm only aware of this because of your blog. Congratulations also for the Editors Choice award!

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Danny, glad you now know about it, happy comet hunting.

Nature Nut /JJ Loch said...

Congrats on the Sky and Telescope submission acceptance. WOOT!!!
Gorgeous Holmes comet photo. I would have thought it was a star but I can see the tail toward the sun.

Hugs, JJ

self taught artist said...

congrats on getting a picture chosen, thats very cool.
love the top photo too, makes me feel like i'm 'seeing the light' and going elsewhere cosmically.

Rick said...

Awesome picture of the comet! Let's see... so far my bad weather has cost me comet pics and hunter moon pics... :(

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks JJ, it is a weird round comet that's what makes it different, might look different as it moves through the cosmos.

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Paula, never thought of it that way, cool.

Bob Johnson said...

Lol, Rick , get used to it, do you know how many photo ops I've missed, lets see, transit of Venus, transit of mercury, 20 gazillion eclipses, and so on, that's the bad part of astrophpotography, the weather.

Anna said...

I guess this post answers my last question, the Discovery was successful, can breath now, lol. Congratulations on your image being selected, that is great, excellent job. I will definitely check the sky out today if there are no clouds, we haven't been very lucky here - oh I just checked it is raining. Thanks for sharing this info, useful as always. Anna :)

Oswegan said...

Saw your profile, I loved Gears of War. I played the whole thing with my teenage son. It was a little short though.

Great photos here too, will be back!

~Oswegan

Susanne in Key West said...

I hope to see the comet tonight, if we don't will have to many clouds. Excelelnt photo, Bob!
Thanks for commenting on my blog!

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Anna, you still have lots of days to view the comet, will be around for awhile. As far as the shuttle goes, the most dangerous time will be in the re-entry, when the temps are hot enough to do some serious damage to a shuttle with a faulty unprotected heat shield, we'll see.

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks oswegan! Gears is very fun and awesome graphics, never get tired of it.

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Susanne! at least with the comet, there will be plenty of opportunities to catch it, so to speak.

JD Beaudoin said...

Great shot Bob! Congrats on having it selected for the Sky and Telescope magazine's website as well. From what I've seen, you've got good quality stuff, you should go far.
~JD

kml said...

Wow, Bob - you have quite the set-up there! Nice and weatherproof and just perfect - very impressive!

Congratulations on the Editors Choice award! You do awesome work and it is much deserved!

alex kaplan said...

I wonder what kind of particles commet can emits.Is it acts like hydrogen engine?

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks JD, appreciate the feedback!

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Kathy, much apprciated!

Bob Johnson said...

Hi Alex, don't forget a comet is not just a big rock of ice, under all that ice is all kinds of volatiles such as sulphurs and carbon monoxide, one theory among many is the comet has broken up and has exposed its fragile honeycomb interior, which in turn has partially collapsed creating a lot of dust particles, (which would account for the orange and yellowish appearance, gaseous outbursts are usually colorless). It will be interesting to find when it gets closer through images, if it's nucleus has indeed boken up. What's interesting is that the break up(if it is indeed a break up) is happening while the comment is still around 2.5 au or around 370,000,000 kms away from the Sun, usually happens closer to the Sun. There are even theories the reason we don't really see a tail is because it is coming towards us and we are going to have a collision with it, oh my!

alex kaplan said...

I think that comets are made of material that is not so dense,that comet can survive penetrating to Earth atmosphere.Their tail is an evidence for that.

Bob Johnson said...

Absolutely right Alex.

Anna said...

Thanks Bob, still raining here - oh well will see tomorrow. I will be patient. On the side note I just finished watching The Eye on the Universe on the Science channel, a show about the Very Large Telescope that was build by Europeans and installed in Chile. Here is the link if you want to read more, but I have not doubt that you already know about it. Have a good weekend of what is left, Anna :)

Anna said...

And here is the link which I forgot to attach: http://www.eso.org/public/ (cut and paste, and remove if you do not allow external links). Anna :)

Majik2903 said...

Great Pics! Wouldn't mind seeing some of those images of the moon. Thanks for commenting on my blog.

Peace

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks for thinking of me Anna, yep I know about them, thanks for the link though, am reading it now. The comet will be around for awhile for you. I took a couple more pics tonight, really cool, the comet picked up a couple of friends, I will post about it Tuesday.

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks and your welcome majik2903.

Anna said...

Hi Bob, thanks, and no problem. I am on my way to take some moon photos, but I thought I left you a quick message - I finally took the Nice Matter Award out from my vault, I gave you some credit for awarding me (boy its been long time), so hope you enjoy it. Anna :)

Watashi Alamo said...

Bob:

Definitelu huge huge kudos for getting your work published in Sky and Telescope. From what I've seen of your stuff, it was well deserved.

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks again Anna, good luck with your Moon shots, right now I'm into comet shots, this comment is sooo cool!

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks watashi alamo, as always I appreciate your feedback!

DrowseyMonkey said...

Very cool pics, and congrats on your photos being chosen. That's quite the dome thingy you got going on there!

(BTW - I did a little post about your naming contest on my blog today.)

Bob Johnson said...

lol, thanks drowseymonkey, tomorrow I'll be posting more comet pics, this thing is getting huge.

Rick said...

Bob, I've been searching the web for images of 17P/Holmes, and I must say, yours is the BEST one I've seen yet, even on official sites!

Bob Johnson said...

Rick you are too kind, come back tomorrow, and see what I have.

Anna said...

Bob, I found the comet Holmes last night when I was taking the moon photos. It was the only yellow, and the biggest flashing object on the sky, hope it is the one, lol. All other stars where small but very bright and shiny, as a matter of fact everything was shiny and bright. About the moon, shadow makes the craters stand out more, so I think I will try not to just wait for the full moon.

Bob Johnson said...

Hi Anna, you probably found it alright, and yes the full Moon is great but the terminator defines the surface features of the Moon which gives it more character.

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