Comet Elenin Going, Going … Gone? Harvest Moon Tonight

Comet Elenin on September 11. The comet is quickly disintegrating into a cloud of dust. Credit: Michael Mattiazzo

That’s just how the cookie crumbles, I guess. Things don’t look good for our once steadfast friend and/or ‘agent of doom’ (perspective your choice) Comet Elenin. It’s faded to 10th magnitude according to recent observations by Australian amateur astronomers including astrophotographer Michael Mattiazzo, and now appears as little more than a smudge low in the western sky as viewed from the southern hemisphere. While moonlight and low altitude make Comet Elenin appear dimmer than it would be if higher overhead, the photo says it all.

Comet Elenin’s nucleus, the small, solid body at the center of the fuzzy coma estimated at several kilometers across, has almost certainly broken into icy bits due to the powerful gravity and heat from the sun en route to perihelion. Small comets, which are a friable mix of ice and dust, just aren’t built to withstand the intense solar heating they experience when swinging near the sun after eons in the deep freeze of the outer solar system.

The Green Bank Telescope is the world's largest fully steerable radio telescope. It was recently used to examine Comet Elenin. Credit: NRAO/AUI

The breakup appears to have begun about August 19. That’s when the comet’s brightening trend stopped and slipped into reverse. At the same time, the core or nuclear region began to fade and elongate. Radio astronomers using the Greenbank Bank Telescope in West Virginia examined Comet Elenin in the “light” of radio waves on September 7 and reported no water, a good sign of the comet’s breakup.

Hubble Space Telescope photo of Comet S4 LINEAR shattered into individual icy fragments that vaporized away. The comet broke up due to solar heating at perihelion in late July 2000. Credit: NASA/ESA

My hunch is that disintegration would cause a rapid increase in the amount of water at first as fresh material was exposed to sunlight. This would then be followed by a quick decline as the fragments vaporized away. Since these were the first radio telescope observations, the peak of water production may have passed, leaving little left to detect. I’m basing this on similar behavior observed in Comet C/1999 S4 LINEAR in July 2000. You can read the fascinating story of S4 LINEAR HERE.

As Comet Elenin drops into the sunset sky in the coming days, our next chance to see it will be about the 24th, when its dregs will cross the field of view of the coronagraph in the orbiting Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO). Perhaps we’ll see a glowing dust trail. As for viewing the comet in the pre-dawn sky in October, it really looks like you’ll need a telescope … if anything’s left to see at all.

One thing you’ll have no problem seeing is the beautiful Harvest Moon tonight and tomorrow night. Your calendar may say it occurs on the 12th, but for North and South America, the moment of full moon is early tomorrow morning. That means it will be as full tonight (‘fuller’ actually) than tomorrow night.

A full moon on the rise. Photo: Bob King

Harvest Moon is the full moon closest to the fall equinox which this year falls on the 23rd. Because the moon is moving steadily northward along its monthly path at full phase in September and October, it rises at nearly the same time for several nights in a row. Check out the diagram below and you’ll see moonrises are only about 20 minutes apart. The opposite happens in spring, when the moon’s path at full takes it steeply to the south. That steep angle means the moon requires more time to ‘climb up’ to the horizon and rise above it. The white arrows in each view will help you picture the difference. Spring rising times are over an hour apart.

The angle of the moon's path to the horizon makes all the difference in moonrise times. At full phase in spring, the path tilts steeply southward, delaying successive moonrises by over an hour. In September, the moon's path is nearly parallel to the horizon with successive moonrises just 20 minutes apart. Times are shown for the Duluth, Minn. region. Illustration: Bob King

Before the advent of modern technology, farmers used the additional moonlight in the early evenings to harvest crops, hence the name. You can find out when the Harvest Moon is rising for your town by clicking over to the U.S. Naval Observatory’s Sunrise/Sunset/Moonrise/Moonset tables for the year.

83 Responses

  1. buffy

    So comet elenin is breaking up or disinegrating like u thought? I thought noone was able too see it till the 23/24 how do they get pictures of it so close to the sun? My daughter wants to learn more about space after all this she is 13 do u have any advice for her?

    1. astrobob

      It’s nearing the end of viewing for everyone right now, including observers in the southern hemisphere. Their observations are being made in evening twilight, and the comet will soon be nearly impossible to see because of faintness and nearness to the sun. The next opportunity for viewing will be SOHO on the 23/24 Sept. For your daughter, I’d recommend 365 Starry Nights by Chet Raymo, Nightwatch by Terrence Dickinson, the Complete Idiots Guide to Astronomy and Cosmos by Carl Sagan are a few good books to start with. The site has lots of cool pix and info, and she can also get ideas of what to watch for by reading my blog. Apologies for the blatant plug ;))

    2. flpmihai

      Don’t know what to think, but I’ve spotted something in the daylight, near the Sun. It cannot be solar flare for sure. I’m not an expert, but there is something there.

      1. astrobob

        It looks like an internal reflection within the camera lens. Some reflections are spread out and wing-like and others can be small spots. There’s nothing bright near the sun right now except the planet Venus, but if you shot the photo at around 2 p.m. facing the sun squarely, Venus would not be in that direction from the sun and also not that bright.

  2. buffy

    No I rather her read ur blogs compaired too all the things she has been reading that has me sitting up with her at night worrying about all the other stuff she has been reading online which by the way did a very good job scarring her to death lol im so very glad u know the facts she is doing better with everything since she has read alot of ur blogs she just wanted reassurance that everything will be fine? It should be against the law too post certain things kids do go online and read them things….

    1. astrobob

      I agree, it’s too bad there’s so much ‘information pollution’ online. One way to help, especially if your daughter’s interested in science, is to make sure she gets a good education in science. The purveyors of nonsense and fear generally ignore the scientific process which involves careful observation and gathering of information, making a hypothesis and then TESTING that hypothesis again and again and again. The last is the hardest part since it involves real work and expertise instead of out-of-pocket guessing games while sitting in front of one’s computer. Also, the person making the hypothesis has to be willing to accept that their initial assumptions could be wrong. I don’t know, maybe it’s too many Hollywood movies, but it’s so much easier to sound and pretend you’re a scientist than actually being one.

    1. astrobob

      Well, yes, it was visible from STEREO, which I reported in previous blogs with image links, etc, as well as on the ground from the southern hemisphere. The “comet” you mentioned in the 9/7 C2 coronagraph image is a cosmic ray artifact like the others scattered around the photo. Go back to the SOHO C2 archive and check images bracketing this one from 4:24 to 4:50. You’ll see it doesn’t show in any of them, while additional artifacts do. This is normal. In any case, it’s not Comet Elenin. SOHO orbits at the L1 Lagrange point directly in front of Earth in the direction of the sun, so Elenin won’t arrive in its field of view until later this month.
      Also, the comet was not blasted by anything from Jupiter, has not changed its orbit and is definitely not going backwards. The whole world of professional and amateurs astronomers would be talking about this if it were true. They’re not, because none of these things happened. The people who are talking this nonsense — and I’ve watched the videos — are ignorant of the most basic science — like how far Jupiter is from the comet, and the fact that comets don’t suddenly change course and move in reverse. My impression is they like stirring people up by sharing fantastic, unproven conjectures. It’s quite irresponsible really, but when all you are is a moniker on youtube, I guess you’re feel to spout whatever you like.


      tHIS WILL EXPLAIN EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW…..It was not elenin and venus didn’t blast anything. It was camera defraction. a reflection of light from a planet moving off screen against the sattelites lens. This causes lens defraction to occur resembling a shockwave in space. Stop believing idiots who dont do any research first.

      1. astrobob

        Thanks GStanz for the link.
        Yes, it’s clearly an internal reflection from the camera, because it’s pointed at a bright object. It happens on cameras done here on Earth all the time ;))

  3. Anouk

    When you go to, you put in mercury and you look at the right of mercury, in infrared, you see a “body”. What is this?! I’ve learned you dont need infrared to look for a comet. Is this elenin? Or something unexplained? Cause it looks like nibiru in ancient drawings. Is elenin à cover for whatever this is? It rather worries me.. Please explain.

    1. astrobob

      Yes, I’ve seen the infrared source on the map and others too. Whatever it is, it’s not a planet or a cover up. It’s an object — perhaps a background galaxy — in the depths of space. There are many infrared sources in the sky. While Google Sky is a great resource, it’s not the complete, original source map of the sky. Areas are blank that either didn’t have data at the time the atlas was made or when pieces were stitched together to create Google Sky.

  4. Don

    When I look at images of Elenin on Stereo on 8/31/11, I see three dots under Elenin that form an “arc” shaped line. In all photos of Elenin that I have seen, these three dots travel with the comet because they are under it in every photo on Stereo on different dates. In the 9/7/11 image from SOHO, I see these same three dots under what appeared ti be a comet. Also there are other dots to the left and right that could be used as points of reference. Can you explain those?

    1. astrobob

      Hi Don,
      Can you send me links to the all the images that show the repeating pattern of dots under the comet? I’ve perused a bunch of these photos and never saw the same pattern of dots (stars) repeat from image to image. The STEREO images of Elenin in general are filled with thousands of stars so I’m guessing that’s what it is. For what it’s worth, no other observer or astrophotographer has reported or photographed them.

  5. S

    It didn’t break apart, it just had a lot of it’s added weight from the asteroid belt knocked off from a CME at it perihelion. It’s visible during the day now.

  6. Gabeiel

    Hello, i read your post and it is very interesting. Since a couple months ago i started reading about elenin. At somepoint i thought Bout leaving my job and start visiting family and saying good bye. Now with your post evertything makes a little more sense. I only have a few questions. Is it true that the goverment would hide information about hittng the earth to avoid chaos? Is there an underground city in the airport of denver? And what can you say about the crop fields with astronomic drawings. Thanks

    1. astrobob

      Glad the blog has been helpful to you. To answer your questions:

      Is it true that the goverment would hide information about hittng the earth to avoid chaos?
      — I sure hope not.
      Is there an underground city in the airport of denver?
      — I have no idea.
      And what can you say about the crop fields with astronomic drawings
      — Proved years ago to all be hoaxes done by regular folks. There’s even a “how to” I saw somewhere on how to make your own crop circles.

    1. astrobob

      Hi James,
      You’ll never have to worry about Nibiru since it doesn’t exist in the real world. Tyche is a name some overexcited astronomer has given to a “10th planet” he’s sure will be revealed in data from the WISE survey. To date, nothing of this nature has been found. Let’s say though that one day someone does discover a distant outer planet and names it Tyche. It will be in an orbit far from Earth and almost certainly not prove a threat. Just like Neptune, Saturn, Jupiter, etc.

    1. astrobob

      Take a close look not just at the three stars but all the stars in the neighborhood. They’re all in the same position relative to one another throughout the frames. Clearly, they’re background stars against which Comet Elenin appears to move because of the combined motion of the comet and STEREO probe. The comet doesn’t move much in relation to the background, which probably has to do with STEREO’s perspective on it combined with the direction of the comet’s motion during the week and a half period under observation.

    1. astrobob

      I looked and the stars do not match up to my eye. Keep in mind that SOHO looks in a very different direction than STEREO. Either way, the C2 images you’re referring to don’t show a comet if that’s the connection you’re trying to make.

  7. Edison

    Astrobob, Is this the only picture that you have now or is there more recent pictures of Elenin break apart? Reason I am asking of this because you have presented here another picture of what a comet breaking up looks like, and comparing to Elenin breaking apart doesn’t really say much. Perhaps, if you will, can show all of us another picture of Elenin. I am not saying you are lying on here, but perhaps you could be wrong. How sure are you Elenin is breaking up just by looking at the picture?

    1. astrobob

      Hi Edison,
      I sure wish I had more photos. The problem is that the professional astronomers using large observatory telescopes (or better, the Hubble) have not targeted the comet to my knowledge. I understand they have their own research they’re more focused on, however it would be nice if the Hubble were focused on Elenin to get some really detailed images. Amateur astronomers are the ones doing the lion’s share of photography and observation of not only Elenin but many other comets — we have the time and interest. The last photo I shared from M. Mattiazzo was from Sept. 11 and was taken through an 11-inch telescope. It hints at what must be going on deep inside. Based on the sudden decrease in brightness, rapid change in the degree of condensation within the coma (from high to now very low) and the lack of water seen in radio telescope observations, the comet is almost certainly breaking up. I can’t say “absolutely”, because I’m not a professional astronomer and don’t have those qualifications, however I’ve seen this happen a couple of times in past comets (especially S4 LINEAR in 2000) and professionals verified that’s what was happening. Many amateur astronomers who’ve studied and followed comets for years concur.

    1. astrobob

      Bacteria might possibly thrive below the surface (caves, hot springs, underground water) in a more protected environment. As for ‘aliens’ in the popular usage, no, I don’t think there are those kind of aliens on Mars, but who knows what future generations will discover.

  8. Misty

    Bob, I am intrigued about what Don is showing on the SOHO Lasco feed from 9/7/11. The “winged” object sure seems like a planet to me. When I went to the navy’s SOHO page, I found this under the FAQ section:

    7. What can I see in a LASCO image ? What is that bright spot with a line through it ? Is it a planet ? This occurs for any object (whether a star or a planet) that is so bright that it is overexposed. The CCD detectors that we use “bleed” electrons along the columns of the CCD when the pixels cannot hold any more electrons. Chances are that the object is a planet or bright star. A look at the almanac and a star map will confirm that. We have had comets or dust particles bright enough to saturate our CCDs also. This saturation is similar to what you can sometimes see in TV or video cameras if they are overexposed. However new CCD cameras have special circuitry that minimizes the amount of “bleeding”. But remember that in our case we are trying to cover a range of brightness that goes from the full brightness of the Sun to stars and a corona fainter than the naked eye can see. Many of the overexposed images are planets. A look at an almanac, astonomy magazine or one of the many sky almanac computer programs can help you identify objects you can see in our images. Nebula, star clusters, asteroids, planets and comets are visible in our images.

    1. astrobob

      You’re right. Sometimes you can see bright planets, comets and stars in the LASCO C2 images. Matter of fact, I frequently use them in my blog when Venus or Mercury is near the sun to illustrate superior and inferior conjunctions of these planets. However on the day the day the C2 photo was taken (Sept. 7) there were no planets that close to the sun. The closest was Venus, but it was well off the frame to the left and not visible. You’re probably referring to the star with the line through it. The one Don had mentioned was below center and definitely an artifact.

  9. Misty

    Maybe the blast didn’t come from Jupiter. Wasn’t Earth oriented on the right of the comet – actually in between the comet and Jupiter the day of the “blast” (8/26)? Earth was much closer to the comet on that day as opposed to Jupiter which was way off.

    1. astrobob

      Hi Misty,
      You’re right. Jupiter was much farther away than Earth. A blast traveling at the impossible speed of light would take 35 minutes to arrive. Particles (if this were even possible) ejected at speeds the sun ejects particles would require at least five to seven days to get here. Bottom line though — there was no blast from Jupiter or from anywhere else that day directed at the comet. All the breathless excitement was over what appears to be a classic case of lens flare. Any sudden changes in the comet’s behavior that day would have been noticed and photographed by a cadre of amateur astronomers who follow Elenin’s every move through their telescopes and with their cameras. It also would have been big news in astronomy community.

  10. Don

    Now hold on a second here. Didn’t the comet appear to be splitting up after supposed “blast” on Stereo at the end of August? Sort of strange that the navy site goes down for a few days at that time and showed no new images until around 9/3. Ironically stereo started showing grainy images for this timeframe (whereas all images prior to this were crystal clear)

    1. astrobob

      “Appear” is the key word here Don. The comet did not break up into two pieces that day. If it had, it would have been observed right here on Earth. No such event was seen. Whoever it is getting into a lather on the video is simply conjecturing. What’s happening — at least to my eyes — is that the comet is passing close to one of the many, many stars in the picture.

  11. James

    Are there moon bases and towers on our moon, or far side of the moon? What do you think about some past astronauts who say they have seen and know that there are UFO’s that were watching and tracking the Apollo missions?

    1. astrobob

      No, I don’t think there are any artificial structures on the moon outside of the descent stages, rovers and equipment left by the Apollo astronauts and the earlier Surveyor and Russian moon missions. None has ever been seen in any atlas of the moon (nearside and farside) I’ve studied. Not sure what to think about the UFO stories. There are a bunch of them with numerous unconfirmed details, so I remain skeptical.

  12. Edison

    Astrobob, thank you for answering my questions :). Your saying that based on what you have seen, hear, and have seen in the past that Elenin perhaps have broken apart. Then again, we are not absolutely sure. I have heard many things concerning this comet. I think the earlier pictures of Elenin with those strange dotted lines could have trigger the idea that this comet could be of a different origin. Hey if you a believer of Jesus Christ, this could very be a sign, for all that God has created (stars) were made to give us seasons and sets of signs and times. Thanks again for responding!

    1. astrobob

      No problem. Comet Elenin is certainly interesting especially with the breakup. There have been so many fine comets over the years that have taught us much about comet behavior. Regarding those dotted lines, depending on the photo you viewed, you either saw a couple small asteroids that were recorded during the exposure or they were stars (dots) created when the photographer stacked multiple images taken at different times to make the final picture.

  13. stephanie

    hi bob I was just wondering how sure you were that the comet elenin will have no affect on earth? cause I messed up and read that obama is suppose to be going to denver on the 27th to escape whatever damage it is suppose to cause! Saying the was earth elenin and the sun align will cause a catastraphy? has an alignment ever happen like this before? and if the comet is that small how could it do so much damage? even if it crossed us wouldnt our atmosphere burn it up anyways? please help very concerned!

    1. astrobob

      We’ve been over this many times already: The comet will have ZERO negative effects on Earth and I’m 100% sure. IF — and that’s a huge IF– Earth is somehow grazed by the comet’s tail, there’s a remote chance for a little extra meteor activity from the tiny bits of dust we MIGHT encounter.

      1. Chantal

        look I’m not a scientist and I truly undersatand your concerns cos I have asked Bob and other sites for answers to questions, because I was really worried about all the stuff I was reading on the web. I work in a school with many intelligent people who have never even heard of elenin, please try not to believe everything you read. I read a quote once that said something along the lines of if you’ve heard of elenin your either interested in astronomy or looking at too many doomsday sites. I am certainly not patronising you cos I ended up on anti depressants because of these sites. Peace of mind is very under rated but I truly understand what it feels like when you loose it.

  14. Rick

    I do not trust Astrobob. The nasa site….with the tool for alignments
    clearly indicates …alignments of the comet, the earth & sun…three times
    with matching dates of major earthquakes. Is NASA in on the hoax?
    Is this real. Bob…fess up…who do you work for?

    1. astrobob

      There is no NASA hoax. The only hoaxes I’m aware of are coming from the fearmongers, junk science purveyors and those who’d like a little fame or help selling a book. I’m not associated with NASA; I’ve worked at a daily newspaper for many years. I’m also fond of tested science instead of conjecture and its big brother coincidence.

  15. Brian

    Some people seem to think that the true facts of this comet is being kept from us, what is the truth? You seem to know a lot about space, what do you think about Nibru that giant planet comet, is it real or fake. Some say you wold be able to see it in the sky today, but i don’t see anything, unless I’m not looking in the right place in the sky. As a kid I’d love things that had to do with space, mostly from anime and sci-fi movies. As a kid I once wanted to study space and go where no one has gone before…Star Trek joke, lol.

    1. astrobob

      Niburu is completely made up and does not exist as a real object. I wish you well in your space studies and may you also go on to discover things no one has done before.

  16. Brian

    Thank you, I don’t know much about comets, but from what I have read, unless I read wrong Comet Elenin is so weak it won’t harm us, am I right or wrong?

    Thanks again 🙂

    1. astrobob

      You’re correct Brian. More importantly, it’s too far away. 22 million miles (closest approach) is 91 times the distance the moon is from the Earth. We’ll be fine.

  17. Christina

    I am in East Tennessee, the supernova that is only supposed to be visible to Brittain, I think I am seeing.. Am I correct.

    1. astrobob

      Hi Christina,
      You should be able to see it from E. Tenn if you look early in the evening before the Handle of the Big Dipper sinks too low in the northwestern sky. You can spot it across much of the U.S., Canada, Europe and northern Asia.

  18. Chantal

    Hi Bob
    may I pose a scientific question about a non scientific subject – surely in the history of recent comets, there must have occurred alignments with the sun and the earth before and with bigger and closer comets than elenin. Surely as planets and celestial objects move in an eliptcal movement round the sun logic decrees that this is not an uncommon event. Please note that I in no way subscribe to this comet/earthquake theory, but am just curious and trying to debunk the rumours for myself one at a time

    1. astrobob

      Hi Chantal,
      I wrote about this very fact many weeks ago when the Elenin talk was really heating up. Yes, you’re right. There are nonstop alignments between the millions of comets and asteroids and Earth every year. Just this year, over 30 new comets have already been discovered. If someone took just that tiny sample and looked at the orbits, there would be “alignments”. We also align with all eight planets at least twice per year with the sun. As I’ve said here many times, there is no scientific proof planetary, cometary or asteroidal lineups cause anything.

  19. Brian

    Thank you, but why are Some people are saying Nasa is keeping the truth from us about Comet Elenin? They say because they don’t want to start a panic or something, but you seem to know what you are talking about so thank you.

    1. astrobob

      You’re welcome. I think some people just hate the “government” or “the man” or whatever you want to call any authority. They also like belittling a good, positive institution (for the most part) for some sort of personal satisfaction. Just my observations.

  20. Chantal

    sorry one last question, if the trajectory of elenin remains the same what about the speed. Is it true that, lets say hypoththetically that the speed of the comet sped up or slowed down would it would still have to make a significant adjustment in direction to hit earth. Also could this adjustment come from earths own gravitational pull and cause this? Out of interest how close would an object the size of elenin have to be to earth to cause this – sorry more than one question

    1. astrobob

      These are all quite excellent questions. First, the comet is always changing speed. Its speed increases slowly as it approaches the sun, reaches a maximum at perihelion and then decreases as it departs the sun’s vicinity. You’re correct about the need for a very significant adjustment for it to approach the Earth, because the comet is traveling along a path with lots of momentum in that particular direction. It would take something of significant size to knock it off its path and change its orbit. Since this is not happening (an exceedingly rare event by the way), Elenin will keep to its path. Because of our planet’s size (modest compared to say, Jupiter) and Elenin’s distance, Earth will have little to no effect on changing the comet’s orbit. Other comets have come closer by without their orbits changing due to Earth’s gravity.

  21. buffy

    Hi bob just out of curiosity I read in a blog today that no way possible did and can comets cause earth quakes but on every alignment a earthquake happend some where is that just coicidence? And he posted that elenin is so small that even if it did hit earth it would break and burn up in our atmosphere and cause damage but wouldnt destroy earth, does that have any truth in it? Like I said before my daughter is fol

    1. astrobob

      Alignments can be found for nearly everywhere — while they might be interesting to look at, they are not cause for events on Earth. If Elenin was a couple miles across and hit Earth intact (which it in no way will just so we’re clear), it would definitely cause some damage. If it’s all in pieces, it might be completely consumed by friction with the atmosphere. Depends on the size of the pieces.

  22. buffy

    Sorry for the delay im on my phone
    But what I was saying my baby is following this too and these are her questions soo thank you so much for answering them for her

  23. BC

    AstroBob — Thanks for being a voice of reason, common sense, and science education for these many years. I haven’t really been following the Elenin coverage very much, and was rather shocked to read the level of ignorance, guile, and plain fear-mongering among the conspiracy buffs. Conspiracies are excellent lightning rods for the deeper fears people have about their lives, the economy, politics, and so forth. What this one says may be hard to determine, but it seems like many people want the world to end, suddenly and dramatically. If it did, then those fears would have a focus, unlike the much more intractable problems like unemployment, taxation, and government bailouts.
    Anyway — you are right to point out that science education can help remedy this. I’d also recommend that people interested in astronomy in general might look to their local astronomy club: in Duluth, the Arrowhead Astronomical Society or in other parts of Minnesota, the Minnesota Astronomical Society. These are diverse groups of like-minded folks, who get together to share knowledge and companionship while having a great time exploring the night sky. But conspiracy theories — not so much.

  24. buffy

    I thought so cause we have atmosphere thats what I tell my daughter I keep telling her not to worry lol and that u know what ur talking about!! She is just in 7th grade with alot on her mind! Will you be updating next week once the comet passes the sun if it survives? Do u think it will?

    1. astrobob

      Yes, the atmosphere takes care of burning up lots of sizeable meteor(ites). No fear from Elenin however since it is much too far away. And I will be updating on Comet Elenin’s status very soon. It is indeed fading even more.

  25. James

    AstroBob, what is your take on NASA sending out emails to employees and family, personal preparedness information back on June 10th??

    1. astrobob

      Hi James,
      I don’t have an opinion on it, since I haven’t followed that story at all. I stick to things you can see in the sky.

  26. buffy

    @ james that isnt true I know someone who works for nasa on the mars rover and he didnt recieve anything and also said he wishes ppl would stop spreading rumors to scare ppl and kids but its been going on for years lol and bob thanks again I will be looking for updates soon

  27. Brian

    How is Elenin doing now? A while ago people said, it would reach earth by the end of September or late October, is that still the case or it it still to far away for it to reach us? Then again i remember you said it was to weak to cause any harm.

    I just have one question, would New York be affected by the comet even if It was to cause harm?

    Thanks Bob

  28. Ruben

    @buffy & James: I am not a conspiracy theorist or fear-spreader but I ended up on this particular site looking for more information after seeing the NASA Family Preparedness video posted by NASA director Charles Bolden on Sept. 13. There were related videos posted for NASA HQ, MSFC LaRC, KSC, JSC, Goddard, Glenn, Dryden, Ames, Stennis on Sept 12. Director Bolden mentions in the beginning of his video that he “became aware of some things that concerned him about their family preparedness” after NASA’s participation in this year’s Eagle Horizon 2011. EH 11 is a Homeland Security exercise that focuses on preparing the federal government in extreme situations and ensures the continuity of government. It is based on Eisenhower’s measures to protect against a nuclear attack.
    Again, no conspiracy theory here, I just wanted to provide factual info regarding the NASA Emergency Preparedness videos.
    Here are the links:
    NASA Emergency HQ vid:
    WH Homeland Security Memo regarding EH 11:

  29. Ruben

    Furthermore, I agree with AstroBob that comet Elenin does not pose a threat to us due to its projected trajectory and size. Like he mentioned, it is going to be 22 million miles away from us at its closest. There are many other near earth objects that will be coming closer, such as asteroid YU 55 due to pass us on Nov 8. Its a decent sized one at 400m and flying in between the Earth and the Moon at 0.8 Lunar Distance. Again, not a threat in its present trajectory but it is being monitored by JPL and USNO.
    These are both exciting events to track, and you can track the closer ones on NASA/JPLs site:

  30. buffy

    Hi I just read online that comet elenin is fading away.. A Michael Mattiazzo stated that the comet will be impossible to see untill Oct because its basically no more.. But on spaceobs they posted a link showing elenins huge tail. Which one is correct? Thanks bob

    1. astrobob

      Please send me the link if you would. Thanks. As I’ve been writing here in the past few weeks, the comet has been in the process of breakup and fading. Michael’s photo was taken with a telephoto lens (not his usual telescope view) and he states that it’s fainter than 10.5 magnitude. That’s below the limit for his lens and exposure, but the remains of the comet may very well be there but fainter, say 11th or even 12th magnitude.

  31. buffy that is the site and like I said spaceobs said something completely different!! Should I be getting nervous lol and my daughter just wants to make sure the sun will not be blocked right ?

    1. astrobob

      None of the images on Universe Today shows a bright comet. Bottom line: the comet has been fading for some weeks now, and the remains are now faint. You can’t pronounce a comet completely gone after a picture taken in a telephoto lens with a limiting magnitude of 10.5. One thing’s for sure — no one will see it with naked eye or binoculars in October.

    2. astrobob

      None of the images on Universe Today shows a bright comet. Bottom line: the comet has been fading for some weeks now, and the remains are now faint. You can’t pronounce a comet completely gone after a picture taken in a telephoto lens with a limiting magnitude of 10.5. One thing’s for sure — no one will see it with naked eye or binoculars in October.

  32. buffy

    So was he telling the truth or was it wishful thinking? Or was spaceobs telling the truth about the coma being still very large? Its hard to determain what to believe and what not to believe? And my daughter was concerned about the 26 coming up and all the hype about 3 days of darkness could u please explain how thats not possible? Thanks again

  33. Chantal

    Hi Bob
    I blogged yeaterday about possible misconceoptions in terminology – but cant find comment anywhere – also I have a great website for the gentleman who liked figures and maths and was asking about earthquakes,but again can’t find his comment to reply. My point actually has been covered by the above questions, and that it appears that Mr Mattiazzo was slightly pre-emptive by stating that the comet did not survive perihilion, but perhaps the term intact should have been added to avoid confusion to laypersons such as myself, (although appreciate that the site is directed toward people with an interest in astronomy) – as did not survive to me indicates gone. no more, doesn’t exist etc which does contradict your reply to me yesterday that the comet was still around. Please, please, please could you address my original question – if it can’t be seen does this mean that it has disintegrated or that it’s magnitude has dropped to a level that is not visable to the equipment being used (or are they indicative of each other).
    Also to the gentleman who stated that earthquakes had increasd – there is a great article in the geology blog “Rock Bandit” look at the earthquake section, and then find question about increase of earthquakes.
    many thanks Bob, hope you remain intact after covering the fire yesterday.

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