Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Spiffy Comet

If you're in the Northern Hemisphere, quick, head outside!

***I stand corrected. Southern Hemisphere, your instructions are here.***

Well, only if it's dark. The astronomy world is all abuzz with the excitement of comet 17P/Holmes. You can be, too!

The thing that's neat about this one is that about 24 hours ago, it went from extra dim to extra bright. Before, you could only see it with a big telescope and/or some serious imaging gear. Then, a dude in Spain got all surprised that it was so bright which got everyone else excited. Now, it looks like just another very bright star in the sky, until you get some magnification on it.

I wish I was better at drawing pictures, but the people at Astronomy have a pretty good picture of what it looks like up in the sky right now.

To find it yourself (and again, I apologize to my Southern Hemisphere friends-I didn't plan this thing's orbit), look to the north/northeast. See if you can spot the constellation Cassiopeia. It looks like a big W. South of that and a little bit more toward the horizon you'll see a bright star (Mirfak) with two fainter stars beneath it that make a nice triangle. The one on the left is Holmes. There's a really really bright star closer to the horizon still, but that's "just" Capella and you can feel free to ignore it. Or feel clever that you know it's called Capella. Either way.

So, this comet is a pretty big deal. Feel free to scour the interwebs for info on it and post links etc. in the comments so we can all share in the excitement.

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