Earth to have close brush with comet

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posted on Mar, 26 2006 @ 01:42 PM
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First off: No, it is not going to hit us. I'm sure that was the main thought on everyone's mind.

That being said, in 1995 Comet 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 3 (Wow, that's a mouthful!) broke apart into three main pieces, labeled A, B, and C. Now, as the comet begins to approach again, astronomers have noticed that the A fragment has been replaced by smaller fragments; G, H, J, L, M and N.

Now, as I said, there is no chance for a collision with the Earth. The nearest fragment will come a distant 6 million miles away, or 25 times further than the Moon. Despite this, the cloud of debris has potential to reach the Earth, showering the atmosphere with micrometeorites and producing one of the greatest meteor showers in the past century.

Aside from the pretty show, it will be a time of great scientific achievements in the study of comets.



Space.com - Broken Comet On Its Way

In May 2006 the fragments are going to fly past Earth closer than any comet has come in almost eighty years.

"This is a rare opportunity to watch a comet in its death throes—from very close range," says Don Yeomans, head of NASA's Near Earth Object Program at JPL.

The flyby is a big deal. "The Hubble Space Telescope will be watching," says Yeomans. "Also, the giant Arecibo radar in Puerto Rico will 'ping' the fragments to determine their shape and spin."

Even backyard astronomers will be able to take pictures as the mini-comets file through the constellations Cygnus and Pegasus on May 12, 13 and 14. Ironically, despite being so close, these comets will not be very bright. The largest fragments are expected to glow like 3rd or 4th magnitude stars, which are only dimly visible to the unaided eye.


Of course, anyone who has read Larry Niven's Lucifer's Hammer may be preparing for a Hot Fudge Sunday!

[edit on 3/26/2006 by cmdrkeenkid]




posted on Mar, 26 2006 @ 03:09 PM
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So this is on May 12, 13 and 14?

That would be amazing to see, deffinately something to keep your eyes open for.

Can you confirm the dates?



posted on Mar, 26 2006 @ 03:26 PM
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Considering they're what Space.com said, which they in turn got from NASA, I would say the date's are pretty accurate.

Also, Space Weather is reporting that...


Mark your calendar: On May 8th at approximately 0300 UT (11 pm EDT on May 7th), the biggest piece of dying comet 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 3 will pass very close to--and possibly right in front of--the Ring Nebula in Lyra. The view through backyard telescopes should be wonderful.


[edit on 3/26/2006 by cmdrkeenkid]



posted on Mar, 26 2006 @ 05:26 PM
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Oh, Damnit! I wish I still had my telescope. I keep reading about all these amazing sights that 'the backyard astronomer' can observe and it's really frustrating that I don't have the telescope anymore



posted on Mar, 26 2006 @ 07:28 PM
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Well, hopefully we'll get a grand meteor shower out of it!

Last time a comet broke up this near to Earth there was a meteor shower that had a rate of about 3000 to 15000 per hour. So keep your fingers crossed!



posted on Mar, 26 2006 @ 11:43 PM
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Originally posted by cmdrkeenkid
Well, hopefully we'll get a grand meteor shower out of it!

Last time a comet broke up this near to Earth there was a meteor shower that had a rate of about 3000 to 15000 per hour. So keep your fingers crossed!


When was the last time btw?



posted on Mar, 26 2006 @ 11:46 PM
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Originally posted by sardion2000
When was the last time btw?


It was in the Space.com article.



One outstanding example is comet Biela, which was seen to split in 1846, and had completely broken apart by 1872," he says. "At least three very intense meteor showers (3000-15000 meteors per hour) were produced by this dying comet in 1872, 1885 and 1892."



posted on Mar, 26 2006 @ 11:51 PM
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Has anyone at NASA (or where ever) done any estimations to see where this comet's pieces will end up in the future? No chance for a collision now, but...

MOD EDIT: Check your u2us

[edit on 3/27/2006 by cmdrkeenkid]



posted on Mar, 26 2006 @ 11:51 PM
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The last time was in 1872, 1885 and 1892 from the Comet Biela that was seen to split in 1846 according to the article by NASA.

www.abovetopsecret.com...'



posted on Apr, 5 2006 @ 09:57 AM
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Hi Commander. Do you have any idea when the possible meteor shower might be? I'm assuming it would occur sometime after the visible passing of the pieces, when earth goes through the debris tail?



posted on Apr, 5 2006 @ 11:56 AM
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The comet has a period just short of five and half years, so around then. In 2022 it's supposed to come closer to Earth on two conditions: if its orbiut doesn't change and if it hasn't completely broken up by then.



posted on Apr, 5 2006 @ 01:06 PM
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One of the pieces is NOW projected to approach as close as 0.0568 AU, or 5.2 million miles.

This is 800,000 miles closer than the original estimate.

Many more pieces have broken off recently and their trajectories have not been confirmed.

This is evolving.

Shades of Shoemaker-Levy anyone?

stay tuned.



posted on Apr, 5 2006 @ 01:27 PM
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Schwassmann-Wachmann 3-X

This "piece" is now projected to come within 0.0327 AU on May 30, 2006.

This is 3 MILLION MILES closer than OP stated. (still 3 million away but this changing situation is worrisome)

neo.jpl.nasa.gov...

more pieces are forming... notice the date..we may be in for a month of cometary debris starting in early May.



posted on Apr, 5 2006 @ 01:57 PM
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If you really want to see something worrisome, center the image on earth and zoom in as far as it will go. Starting the last week of May, we might just be getting a good debris shower.



posted on Apr, 5 2006 @ 02:14 PM
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I'm sorry, I seem to be missing something here. Where are you getting those distance estimates from?



posted on Apr, 5 2006 @ 02:17 PM
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neo.jpl.nasa.gov...

straight from the horses mouth



posted on Apr, 5 2006 @ 02:20 PM
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Nevermind, found it.

The comet is in front of the Earth in its orbit when it comes that close though.

[edit on 4/5/2006 by cmdrkeenkid]



posted on Apr, 5 2006 @ 04:41 PM
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yes, but it is almost as close as it approaches from behind. please note that not all cometary fragments have been tracked, and original estimates ARE WAY OFF.

and what might happen if cometary fragment X itself fragments?

would the new fragments not have different velocities and trajectories?

this bears watching and in my opinion the jury is still out whether or not we are in the clear.

and what happensin 5.5 years w/all of these new fragments?

serious questions without current answers.



posted on Apr, 5 2006 @ 04:57 PM
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in 5.5 years we will be on the opposite side of the sun from the fragments, the close approaches to Earth are every 16.5 years, which is why 2022 is a date to watch for it.

In all likelihood, further fragmentation will occur by then and hopefully we get nothing more than a spectacular meteor shower.

This isn't quite the same as Shoemaker-Levy, where some of the fragments were several km across, the estimated size of the original comet was 1 km diameter.



posted on Apr, 6 2006 @ 06:26 AM
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hopefully is right.

do you remember the size of the explosions on Jupiter?

and those comet fragments were hitting gas...not rock.






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