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Catch A Comet - No Telescope Required

Night sky chart showing comet Holmes
by Staff Writers
Pasadena CA (SPX) Nov 01, 2007
Usually comets are challenging little no-see-um fuzzballs. To see one often requires a dark sky, a good chart or a telescope that can "go-to" the object automatically. This week there is a newly visible comet in the sky and it can be seen with the unaided eye! Last week, Periodic comet Holmes (17P/Holmes), a very faint comet far from the sun experienced an outburst and brightened a million times in just a few hours. The comet puffed up (it's still expanding), changed color and wowed viewers around the world.

The Astronomy Photo of the day for October 30 (visit: http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap071030.html) shows the comet's current apparent size in the sky - compared to Jupiter, which you can also see in the west after sunset.

To see the comet, all you have to do is step outside and look to the Northeast. You should be able to see the "W" that is the constellation Cassiopeia - it's standing on its end. One and a half "fists" away to the right is a bright star in the constellation Perseus. You probably won't be able to see all the Perseus stars, but the bright one - Mirfak - should be visible. It marks the top of a triangle, which is about the size of your thumb held at arms length away. The triangle's lower left corner is the comet! Use our sky chart to help you find the comet.

The comet will stay with us for a while, so weather permitting, you'll get a look this week or next.

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It Came From Vesta
Los Angeles CA (SPX) Oct 30, 2007
Their infiltration began - like so many other infiltrations - with a tell-tale contrail of smoke and flame creating a supersonic slash across the afternoon sky. But this time they would not go unnoticed. This time, two Australian station workers, just going about their job, opening a gate to a boundary fence, witnessed their arrival. The eyewitnesses later said they observed a "fireball with sparks coming off," streaking from the south to the north, make its descent into a hummock of spinifex grass. It would be another 10 years before they told their story. A decade before the world realized -- the Eucrites had arrived.







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