Jan 12, 2009

Science - Comet Lulin will be visible to naked eye

Satyen Mohapatra

Comet Lulin, with two tails, is moving closer to Earth and will be visible to the naked eye. The comet is likely to reach its peak brightness on February 24.

Director of Nehru Planetarium N. Rathnashree said the comet at its closest will be about 61 million kilometers from Earth. Adding that at its closest in February, Lulin’s brightness will at a maximum.

“However, as the comet is perhaps on its first visit to the inner part of the solar system, its behaviour cannot be predicted accurately. It can become very bright and can also remain faint,” she added.

Amateur astronomer Amar Sharma from Bangalore claims to have spotted the comet through his telescope, though it’s “still quite faint”.

He told Hindustan Times that the comet can be seen with two tails and will be a visual phenomenon when it cuts across Earth’s orbital plane.

The comet is at present moving between the constellations Scorpio and Libra and can be viewed early morning in the east-south-east direction low in the sky.

1 comment:

Dileep Sathe said...

As Lulin comet is backward orbiting, we have to consider a long standing, global problem in physics education, regarding the direction of motion and a trouble in the Solar System. See my Letter in CHANGE (a bimonthly of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching) May-June 2008, title: Getting science right. Personally, it reminds me of a happy discussion of that problem with Prof. Martin Perl (Nobel Laureate, Physics) in SINGAPORE, Nov. 2007, in a conference in honor of Prof. C N Yang on his 85th birthday - because we both love mechanics. See attached photo.