Look To The Sky Tonight

Some of you may be interested to know that a comet will be visible in the sky tonight.  Astronomers say that you can see it with the naked eye, and even better with a pair of binoculars.  The comet, Lulin, will make its closest pass to the Earth tonight (a paltry 38 million miles).  Reports say that it is traveling in roughly the same curve as the Earth, but in a different direction.  Because of this, the comet appears to be moving very fast and produce two tails. National Geographic has this to say about viewing the comet:

The comet’s position on the night of closest approach “means we can observe it all night long from either hemisphere,” Ye said. Lulin will appear in the constellation Leo just below the planet Saturn.

The “tail” of the comet (the part that seems streaky) is produced when the Sun’s heat starts to melt the water and gas that are contained within the comet.  Apparently, the Sun melts about 800 gallons of water a second off the comet, which is enough to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool in less than 15 minutes.

I checked the weather radar for current conditions, and all reports say that tonight should be clear enough to see the comet.  To find the comet, look to the Eastern sky tonight for a bright light.  The bright light should be Saturn.  Look just below Saturn, and you should find the comet.

Let us know in the comments if you see it.  Since the sky is pretty clear here in central PA, hopefully it’ll be easy.  Also, if any of my information is wrong, let me know and I’ll change it.  I won’t pretend to be any kind of astronomer (or have taken Astro 001).

[Thanks to Steve R. for sending this in.]

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Steve S.

Steve Sharer is a Security and Risk Analysis major and an overall good guy. He brings Onward State readers enticing posts such as "Question of the Day" and "Campus Explorer" and will continue to do so until he becomes the President of the United States of America in 2024.


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