Comet Brightness

5 Jul 2018

At (July 4th 2018) ... Comet PanSTARRS, the so called Green Comet, a green blob against the backdrop of stars, has just increased in brightness - dramatically. It actually brightened sixteen fold - according to Michael Jager, an Austrian amateur astronomer (in the late hours of July 2nd).

   ... the gas cloud around the comet nucleus is about 4 arc minutes wide. Jager adds - which means the comet's atmosphere is 260,000km in diameter, about twice as wide as the planet Jupiter (by Jove). It is currently visible in binoculars but it may become naked eye visible in August, as it approaches perihelion.

   ... the PanSTARRS comet is approaching the Sun on a hyperbolic orbit. At perihelion (August 15th) the comet will be inside the orbit of Mercury - and open to solar radiation. However, the Sun is very quiet - no sun spots for the seventh day in succession (and the 94th day so far in 2018). Having said that the face of the Sun may be lacking active sun spots but the edge of the Sun is brimming with activity ...

   ... seems like there are fireworks on the NW edge of the Sun - or what is known as prominence. These are basically clouds of hot plasma held down close to the Sun's surface by magnetic fields (it is thought). This prominence is around 50,000km tall and 3 times as wide. It can be seen by backyard telescopes - and some images by a local astronomer have turned up in my email inbox.

The Electric Universe UK conference is set to take place on Saturday 7th July. Will the Green Comet figure in the talks?