jueves, 1 de noviembre de 2007

Giant comet

Comet 17P/Holmes has been relentlessly expanding since its explosion on Oct 23rd and now it spans an angle in the sky almost half as wide as the full Moon. Using a picture of the comet he took on Oct. 30th, Helmut Groell of Moers, Germany, created this animation for comparison:

Actually, the comet is even bigger than it looks. While the Moon is a mere 240 thousand miles away, Comet Holmes is 150 million miles from Earth. The comet's physical diameter is thus seven times wider than the planet Jupiter--and it is still expanding.

Anyone with a backyard telescope can watch it grow. After sunset, point your 'scope at the 3rd-magnitude fuzzball in the constellation Perseus: sky map. Finding the comet is no problem. The only question is, will it fit in the eyepiece?