Recently Discovered Comet Heading Our Way This Year

It won’t put on a show like Hale-Bobb in 1997, scientists say, but should provide a good chance to study a long-period comet.

Discovery and distance

According to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s website: Comet Elenin was first detected on Dec. 10, 2010 by Leonid Elenin, an observer in Lyubertsy, Russia. At the time of the discovery, the comet was about 401 million miles from Earth.

Comet Elenin should be at its brightest shortly before its closest approach to Earth on Oct. 16 this year. At its closest point, it will be 22 million miles away.

No Hale-Bopp

Don Yeomans of NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program Office at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. has this to say about how bright Elenin will be:

“Some cometary visitors arriving from beyond the planetary region — like Hale-Bopp in 1997 — have really lit up the night sky where you can see them easily with the naked eye as they safely transit the inner-solar system. But Elenin is trending toward the other end of the spectrum. You’ll probably need a good pair of binoculars, clear skies, and a dark, secluded location to see it even on its brightest night.”

Internet rumors

And about those pesky Internet rumors (having to do with strange behavior coming from the comet) Yeomans says:

“There have been some incorrect Internet speculations that external forces could cause comet Elenin to come closer (to Earth).”

End of discussion. Read full story at www.jpl.nasa.gov.

Translate »