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There's a comet in the evening sky. It's dim, not easy to see, and the video above may help you zero in on it. There are more comets coming this year:
Comet Pan-STARRS is officially known as C/2011 L4 (PANSTARRS) and was discovered in June 2011 by astronomers with the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (or PAN-STARRS). Scientists estimate that the comet takes more than 100 million years to orbit the sun once.

Pan-STARRS made its closest approach to Earth last week and was closest to the sun on Sunday (March 10). The object is one of several comets visible in the night sky this year. The Comet Lemmon has been closely tracked by amateur astronomers in the Southern Hemisphere since January, while the Comet ISON— which some scientists say could be a potential "comet of the century" — is making its way toward the inner solar system.

Who knows? Maybe there's something going on out in the Oort Cloud, something ancient, now stirring ...
  • Urey-Miller goes cosmic.
  • I have some questions about self publishing. See my first comment below for more.
  • It is the Higgs!
  • Even the most dyed in the red-wool elephantine wingnut extraordinaire grasps the fact that science equals money! It happens a little bird told me there may be some cash and capital being handed out soon for anyone who has a business plan for new or improved space-y products. Maybe I'll have the link[s] with more info and where you can apply soon.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 06:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by SciTech.


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Comment Preferences

  •  Happy Saturday! (16+ / 0-)

    I need some info about self publishing a dead tree book with an option to format and download for e-readers. This is not a project for an intern or a first timer or someone who dabbles in it. I need accurate answers and specific estimates from a pro, someone who can hit the ground running in the unlikely event this turns into more than an info gathering lark. Send contact emails to darksydothemoon, the domain is alpha oscar lima, use the subject line Book.

  •  Um, don't you mean ~100 THOUSAND years? (5+ / 0-)

    My astro ph.d. is nearly 30 years old, but the "100 million years" immediately hit a discordant note.  A solar system object with such a period would spend most of its orbit well out of our sun's gravitational influence.  

    A few seconds rechecking the original sources clarified this -- I didn't do the orbital mechanics personally!

    mx tx

    (-7.62,-7.33) Carbon footprint 12.6 metric tons. l'Enfer, c'est les autres.

    by argomd on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 06:08:33 AM PDT

  •  was the Higgs actually found on Pi day? nt (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aunt Pat
  •  I've posted this pic before, (11+ / 0-)

    but for you comet lovers who haven't had a chance to see Panstarrs, here's a view that I got Tuesday night when the crescent moon was nearby. I was in western Georgia with nearly ideal viewing conditions: a front had just passed, there was no light pollution (except for the occasional farm light), and I had an unobstructed view.

    Happy comet hunting!

  •  Fortunately, these comets don't seem as dangerous (5+ / 0-)

    as some have imagined:

    "They will not collect a ransom in exchange for not crashing the American economy. The full faith and credit of the United States of America is not a bargaining chip."

    by TofG on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 06:21:21 AM PDT

  •  Terraforming of the Gods (5+ / 0-)

    One largish comet may, emphasize may, hit Mars next year.
    Bringing underground water, and possibly new life, to the surface.

  •  So does the Higgs confirmation mean creation ends (5+ / 0-)

    sometime in the next 10-20 billion years, give or take a few, when our meta-stable universe is swept away by the nascent bubble of a new universe?
    Darn, thats just about the time my IRA will be worth something.

    •  Douglas Adams was right sort of (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

         There is a theory which states that if ever anybody discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened.
              Douglas Adams
              English humorist & science fiction novelist (1952 - 2001)  

  •  Does anyone doubt that if a comet was heading (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jck, elfling

    At us, and Obama proposed an emergency plan to build a systen to divert it and save all life on Earth, Republicans would filibuster it, demand the cost of the program needed to be offset by spending cuts on social programs, and that Obama was anti-Christian for not suggesting we use prayer instead?

    "We are not going to give up on destroying the health care system for the American people." - future President Paul Ryan.

    by Fordmandalay on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 07:23:30 AM PDT

  •  Quiet morning here, it seems. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    After a previous posting of the movie Melancholia, I can't help but be reminded of it with the talk of something "stirring" in the Oort cloud.  A rogue planet passing into the Sun's gravitational influence might disrupt the Oort cloud and send a comet or two our way first.

    There's a cheery thought for a Saturday morning!

  •  Good grief. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lonely Liberal in PA

    That old saw about comets "bringing to Earth the stuff of life" is so worn out.  Why do they keep pursuing it?

    For one thing it's an unprovable hypothesis, which means it's not even wrong.  It's just speculation, until the day we arrive on some other planet and find actual DNA there.  And Einstein says that's pretty much never.

    But more importantly, it's begging the question.  Somebody thinks that evolution is unlikely on Earth, so they postulate evolution somewhere else.  And nobody ever seems to ask just where this "somewhere else" is, or why evolution there is so much more plausible than evolution here, where conditions are perfectly ideal.

    I am so damn tired of this idea, and the way it seems to come up every year as a "breaking new theory."

    Early to rise and early to bed Makes a man healthy, wealthy, and dead. --Not Benjamin Franklin

    by Boundegar on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 07:34:05 AM PDT

    •  Unprovable here (0+ / 0-)

      But we do see cometary evidence in forming planetary systems.  It's conceivable we could, with better technology, see this happening in another system, or many other systems.

      That may indicate that Earth is by no means special and that there's a decent chance that comets added plenty of water and organic material.  That they've added some is certain, but more than some is in question as the isotopes don't match all that well.

      I'm not saying that life came on a comet--not without a tremendous amount of proof--merely that cometary mass may have helped things along.  How much they may have helped remains to be proven.

      (-6.38, -7.03) Moderate left, moderate libertarian

      by Lonely Liberal in PA on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 08:30:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Something stirring in the Oort cloud.... (0+ / 0-)

    maybe a brown dwarf we've overlooked?

  •  Hello?? Not 100 million years, folks! (0+ / 0-)

    I posted a gentle nudge for a correction 4h ago, yet this front-page diary persists in a 3 orders of magnitude error.

    The estimate shown by the original sources is more like ~100,000 years.  Even Wikipedia has this right (several months ago, in fact) as does the Ceylon News, et al.  Millions and thousands are both large numbers, but they're not interchangeable.

    This isn't rocket science, if you'll pardon the expression.

    (Even has fixed this.)

    It's a tad embarrassing that insufficient attention is being placed in scientific accuracy by a site that derides wholesale scientific inaccuracy elsewhere.

    Please, guys, please!


    (-7.62,-7.33) Carbon footprint 12.6 metric tons. l'Enfer, c'est les autres.

    by argomd on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 10:16:02 AM PDT

  •  I've seen the comet 3 nights in a row (0+ / 0-)

    after a week of fruitless searching. The observing window is short, a bit less than a half hour, and it's not terribly bright. But, there's nothing else of comparable brightness nearby, so a fuzzy light in the west within a fist-width of the horizon is probably it. Binoculars are nice if you have them.

    Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

    by elfling on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 11:05:21 PM PDT

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