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September was Historic, astronomically

For the first time ever, a meteor has grazed in and out of Earth's atmosphere, slowing enough to become a temporary satellite that lasted a full orbit. In other astronomical news, a comet was discovered by a couple of Russian astronomers that appears to have all of the ingredients to be one of the greatest comets in our lifetimes, and maybe one of the greatest in human civilization's history. New comet might blaze brighter than the full Moon This will be the second great comet of 2013.
posted by spock on Oct 3, 2012 - 72 comments

It's SOHOt

On July 5th the SOlar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) captured video of a comet, known as a sungrazer, in route to collide with our star. SOHO is equipped with an occluding coronograph that blocks direct sunlight and reveals the corona, but also prevents direct study of the terminal impact of sungrazers. But on July 6th, with the help of the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), astronomers were able to observe the comet (slyt) streaking in front of the surface of the sun for the first time in history. It likely disintegrated before impact due to extreme heat and radiation.
posted by troll on Jul 8, 2011 - 18 comments

Puny Earthlings, you will be reduced to a smoldering sphere

The International Academy of Astronautics is holding the Planetary Defense Conference: Protecting Earth from Asteroids May 9-12, 2011. in Bucharest, Romania [more inside]
posted by IvoShandor on May 12, 2011 - 13 comments

Tempel 1 Part Deux

On February 14 NASA's Stardust-NExT mission revisited the comet Tempel 1. Tempel 1 was first visited by NASA's Deep Impact, which smashed into the comet back in July 2005. [more inside]
posted by IvoShandor on Feb 21, 2011 - 16 comments

"The planet . . . was scarcely any larger than a house!"

The Planetary Society's Emily Lakdawalla has prepared a scale image of every asteroid and comet ever visited by a spacecraft. [more inside]
posted by IvoShandor on Jul 21, 2010 - 15 comments

"We know you; you'll never be just a speck of light again."

The European Space Agency's Rosetta craft has returned stunning images of the asteroid 21 Lutetia, including this one which couples Lutetia with a member of our planetary family. [more inside]
posted by IvoShandor on Jul 13, 2010 - 21 comments

The Comet Hunters

The Story of a Comet Hunter (see also his web page which contains a link to the story of his discover of Comet Seki-Lines in 1962). Visual comet hunting has a long and intriguing history. Today visual hunters are adapting their ways to make visual discoveries in an age of automated searches. The amateur can still win. Now, ANYONE can discover a comet(?) Or perhaps 1000. A Guide for SOHO Comet Hunters. More SOHO and Sungrazing Comet Links. [Previously]
posted by spock on Apr 18, 2008 - 2 comments

Comet Machholz and the Comet Hunters

"Naked Eye" Comet Machholz (binoculars recommended) nears maximum brightness in the coming days ( starchart here and here). How to photograph a comet and other objects. The story of its discovery (his 10th). Comet hunters are an interesting breed. Now you can discover comets from your 'puter with SOHO imagery. If stargazing interests you, you may also like the Wunderground astronomy web application (based on U.S. zip codes).
posted by spock on Jan 4, 2005 - 7 comments

Shooting Stars

Step away from the computer. Go outside. Have a look. The annual Perseid meteor shower is gracing our skies for the next 48 hours, looking better than ever, as Earth passes through a filament trailing from a comet's tail. (Hopefully, the comet won't smash into us in 2126.)
posted by digaman on Aug 10, 2004 - 12 comments

Oh, the humanity!

Asteroid orbits Enter the designation or name of any asteroid or comet, and a 3D orbit visualization tool will appear for that object. If Chicken Little had this link he might have calmed down a little. Or not...Find out if your favorite asteroid is about to rock your world.
posted by konolia on Sep 2, 2003 - 5 comments

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