posted on Oct, 30 2012 @ 01:44 PM
Originally posted by wutz4tom
If this is even remotely accurate it will be a site to see....
It's not. The comet's total magnitude is projected to be about the same brightness as the moon, not "15 times brighter." I have no idea where
daily fail, err, sorry, "daily mail" got that quote, but it goes against everything I've seen. These are still early projections and the comet may
either exceed or fail to live up to expectations, but I see no data indicating that it will be 15 times brighter than the moon. Total magnitude is
also spread over the entire nucleus and tail, so the actual "surface brightness" may be considerably less than the moon. I'm speaking in astronomy
lingo here, but the bottom line is that because the light from the comet is distributed over what may be a much wider area of the sky than the half
degree diameter of the moon, it may not appear to the naked eye to be as "bright" as the moon (but if you could count the total number of photons
reaching your eye from the comet it would be roughly equivalent to the number of photons reaching your eye from the full moon). At that time it will
also be next to the sun in the sky, making it more difficult to observe.
A lot is being said in the mainstream media about this comet, unfortunately it's sensational stories like this that will result in a disappointed
public. It reminds me about the over-hyped expectations during the 2003 mars apparition. At one point an email was going around stating that mars
would be as large as the moon in the sky (which stemmed from a true statement that at a modest magnification in a telescope it would appear as large
as the moon does to the naked eye). That email kept going around for a number of years thereafter, and every August I had to tell disappointed
visitors to the observatory that I worked at that mars was not going to be visible that night, let alone as big as the moon. Attempts to divert their
interest to the planets that were visible that night frequently failed as they would simply turn around and leave. I fear that over-hyped
expectations of this comet will lead to lots of "that's it?" remarks.