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November 02, 2007

Wanderer in Space

During the night from October 23 to 24 a something spectacular took place in the constellation of Perseus: a comet became "suddenly" visible because within twenty-four hours it jumped from magnitude 17, which is not even visible with the better telescopes on earth, to magnitude 2.5, which is visible with the naked eye during a clear night.

Comet Holmes, a bright spot on the sky

The name of the comet is "Holmes". The next picture shows where exactly to look for the comet in the constellation of Perseus which can be seen in the North East after nightfall.

How to locate Holmes

Perseus is quite a colourful constellation. Its brightest star is Mirfak (alpha Persei), a Reddish Supergiant, delta Persei a Blue Giant and Misam (kappa Persei) a Yellow Giant. Algol is a so-called Variable Star, meaning it has a companion circling it and obscuring it from time to time. Next time this can be observed from Earth will be on November 13, 21:20 UTC.

Holmes, the comet, was already discovered in 1892 by Edwin Holmes. It then displayed a similarly spectacular outburst in brightness as it did last week. High resolution pictures revealed that Holmes suffered some kind of internal explosion last week. Fragments can be seen on those pictures. At the moment the astronomic community is not sure if Holmes has been ripped apart or will again survive as it did more than 100 years ago.

Safe journey, Holmes, wherever you go ....

Posted by Mausi at November 2, 2007 07:11 PM

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