Fall Object Planning Post – Comet Elenin (C/2010 X1)

From the linked article at www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2011-135…auid=8291526:

“This comet may not put on a great show. Just as certainly, it will not cause any disruptions here on Earth. But there is a cause to marvel,” said Yeomans. “This intrepid little traveler will offer astronomers a chance to study a relatively young comet that came here from well beyond our solar system’s planetary region. After a short while, it will be headed back out again, and we will not see or hear from Elenin for thousands of years. That’s pretty cool.”

The path of Comet Elenin, from NASA/JPL-Caltech.

Interim Secretary and longtime Board Member Mike Brady sent along the following link about Comet Elenin (C/2010 X1) recently to help us begin to plan our fall observing sessions. There have been a half-dozen-or-so comets observed through the eyepieces of the 16″ Cave at Darling Hill in the past three years, a few difficult to find from Constellation guides alone and a few nearly impossible without a piece of paper with the slight fraction of the comet’s elliptical path marked out.

By some accounts, Elenin will be a bit of a struggle for Darling Hill, but at least one blog post reports it may be a pleasant object for morning observing (and who’s going to doubt Astro Bob given how good Barlow Bob and Barefoot Bob do for the SAS?). Check out Astro Bob’s post on Elenin at astrobob.areavoices.com/2010/12/28/bright-comet-prospect-for-2011/.

Depending on which websites you read, Elenin will either collide violently with Earth or pass by quietly. Given the differences in the scientific quality of those pages stating both possibilities, I suspect I’ll not plan on cancelling the November 2011 Public Viewing session at this point.

And furthermore(!), if you’re looking for a bit more information about what 2011 brings in terms of Comet hunting, the PDF linked at www.ast.cam.ac.uk/~jds/preds11.pdf provides a nice summary to begin a little google searching before dragging your scopes out.