Comet Holmes suddenly getting brighter to rival the moon - astronomers amazed

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Comet Holmes suddenly getting brighter to rival the moon - astronomers amazed

A comet that suddenly brightened earlier this week has astronomers around the globe fascinated. And the show could go on for some time.

Comet Holmes, discovered in 1892, had in recent years been visible only through telescopes until a dramatic outburst made it visible to the naked eye. In fewer than 24 hours, it brightened by a factor of nearly 400,000.

It has now brightened by a factor of a million times what it was before the outburst, a change "absolutely unprecedented in the annals of cometary astronomy," said Joe Rao, SPACE.com's Skywatching Columnist.

The comet is now rivaling some of the brighter stars in the sky. Anyone with a map should be able to spot it now.

But Comet Holmes lacks a tail, so it's more like a fuzzy, yellow star, observers report. The view is improved with a small telescope.
... Quote:
This is a terrific outburst, and since it doesn't have a tail right now, some observers have confused it with a nova. We've had at least two reports of a new star.
said Brian Marsden, director emeritus of the Minor Planet Center, which tracks known comets and asteroids.

Bortle said the coma, or fuzzy head of the comet, could expand as weeks go by. The coma could reach the apparent size of the moon in the sky, he said.
More on the site
 http://www.space.com/spacew...

and background here
 http://en.wikipedia.org/wik...
By netchicken: posted on 28-10-2007








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