Say Hello To Comet Holmes!

8 de noviembre de 2007

November 8, 2007(LPAC)--A bright, easy-to-see comet has made its appearance in our northern skies; though it has been somewhat visible since late October, it is only now, that it can be seen even in light-saturated urban skies in the Northern Hemispere.

Comet Holmes is not a new visitor to our skies, having been first discovered over a century ago by Edwin Holmes of England. When Holmes first spotted it, it was fairly bright, but with subsequent returns at seven-year cycles, it never again became bright enough too see with the naked-eye. Now, over the course of this past October, it has increased in luminosity about a million times, for reasons still unknown.

The Comet bears watching, as it may change into a still brighter comet, an occurrence of great rarity. It is roughly located at a declination 50 degrees north, right ascension 3 hours, and is observed within the constellation of Perseus near the bright star Alpha Persei (also known as Algenib). To find it now, go out around midnight and lie on your back and look almost straight up. This is best done with binoculars--the more powerful the better. In the constellation of Perseus you will find a cluster of stars, the brightest of them being Alpha Persei. The comet will be in the left side of the binocular field, with Alpha Persei on the right. The comet is moving slowly toward Alpha.

A long way from the Sun, the Holmes is traveling between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, and it is now heading out away from the Sun, adding to the unusualness of its brightening.