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.
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]
Here's an excellent map if you want to see Comet Holmes/17P tonight (the comet that, until a couple of nights ago you would have needed a pretty good-sized telescope to even see. Then (out of the blue, as it were) it unexpectedly brightened by over 1,000,000 times to become an easy object for your naked eye –even with the nearly full moon in the sky). I did not know about CalSky but (despite some less-than-attractive web design) is truly the best of the web for online astronomy info and sky maps! [more inside]
And now for something completely different: A star with a tail like a comet. (Cool pic). Don't know how we missed it. It's one of the most well-known stars in the sky and the tail is 13 light-years long, or about 20,000 times the average distance of Pluto from the sun.
Comets have long inspired fear and it continues today. Nostradamus "prophesied":
Mabus then will soon die, there will come Of people and beasts a horrible rout: Then suddenly one will see vengeance, Hundred, hand, thirst, hunger when the comet will run.But who is Mabus (Nostradamus' third antichrist)? Will the idea further inspire Muslim fundamentalists?