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There’s sure been a lot of excited talk about the disintegration and disappearance of Comet Elenin this week, but we must be careful not to jump to conclusions based on only a small amount of evidence. I don’t think there’s any doubt that the small, several kilometer-wide comet body itself has broken into pieces, which are now vaporizing into a cloud of dust and gas. That began around the 19th of August when Comet Elenin started to fade and its coma became much more diffuse. The breakup was caused by heat and gravitational stresses from the sun in advance of its closest approach to the sun on September 10th. This behavior is not unusual and has been observed in other comets in the past. It demonstrates to us again that comets are not dense, rock-hard bodies like many of the asteroids. Being composed of ices and dust, they’re subject to break up and dissolution from the sun.
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So is the comet there or gone? I’m sure that the dust cloud is still there but faint and difficult to photograph because of low altitude and evening twilight. A larger telescope and better conditions would undoubtedly show it. Indeed the comet may be 11th magnitude and just below the limit for Mattiazzo’s scope. Because it will get even closer to the sun from our perspective in the coming days, it may well be impossible to photograph again until it swings into the dark morning sky in mid-October.
Originally posted by soulofsirius
see now that is the kind of stuff that makes conspiracy people look like con artists haha