Miriam Kramer and Dave Eicher talk comets on SPACE.com

Posted by David Eicher
on Thursday, March 07, 2013

This image shows Comet PANSTARRS above the city of Bariloche and Mt. Catedral, in Argentina. Guillermo Abramson used a Canon EOS Rebel T1i DSLR with a Canon EF100mm f/2 USM lens. He set the focal ratio at f/2 and selected an ISO of 800. Then he captured this 2.5-second exposure March 3, 2013, at 9:41 p.m. local time. // Credit: Guillermo Abramson
A few days ago, SPACE.com correspondent Miriam Kramer and I discussed a lot of cometary stuff, from ISON to PANSTARRS, to other things, and today Miriam posted a news story based on our discussion on SPACE.com.

We are on the cusp of some really exciting stuff. Today or tomorrow, most of us northerners will be able to observe PANSTARRS for the first time, as it continues shooting northward through Aquarius and neighboring constellations.

A note to you astroimagers out there: please send us your images, as many of you already have been doing, and we’ll post them on the magazine’s website and on social media.

And over the past couple days, we’ve had much ado on Comet Siding Spring (C/2013 A1), which will make a close passage of Mars on October 19, 2014. When we first heard about this story, images of the 1994 encounter between Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 and Jupiter jumped to mind. But it appears that Siding Spring will pass something like 31,000 miles (50,000 kilometers) from the martian surface, rather than strike it.

Still, this will be another incredible cometary event. Cameras on the Curiosity and Opportunity rovers will image the comet in the martian sky when it’s as bright as magnitude 0. From Earth, Siding Spring will be an 8th-magnitude object, but — tantalizingly — close enough to Mars to fit into a low-power telescopic field of view with the planet.

That’s pretty cool stuff.

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