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Space Science

Comet Unexpectedly Brightens a Millionfold 276

swordgeek writes "Comet 17P/Holmes, a relatively obscure and (until a few days ago) dim object, has suddenly flared to be literally a million times brighter, going from magnitude 18 to 2.8. It is just outside of the constellation Perseus, which puts it high in the sky and ideal for viewing at this time of year. The comet still appears starlike even in binoculars but should grow to several arcminutes across over the next few nights. The comet is now readily visible to the naked eye. This is a completely unexpected once-in-a-lifetime event, so get out your finest optics (even if it's just your eyes) and go comet watching!"
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Comet Unexpectedly Brightens a Millionfold

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  • Er, where? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sm62704 ( 957197 ) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @10:32AM (#21113325) Journal
    ...high in the sky and ideal for viewing at this time of year.

    On what part of the planet? Northern hemosphere or southern? The Americas or Asia? What time of night (or day)?

    In 1974, the American media were excitedly predicting a very bright comet named Kahoutek, and then when it appeared wrote how dissapointing the show was, that it wasn't even visible.

    I was in Thailand that year, Kahoutek drowned out all the stars in half the sky there.

    Some of you folks need to learn that the internet is a global phenomena and not restricted to your own country. Is this thing visible in my country (US)? What part of the sky, and what time? If I can see it, people in Australia can't.

  • by lrohrer ( 147725 ) < minus city> on Thursday October 25, 2007 @10:56AM (#21113751) Homepage
    Actually Revelations/Ezekial talks about a poison raining down on the earth presumably from a comet. That assumes of course we are talking about the END TIMES.
  • by Sperbels ( 1008585 ) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @11:35AM (#21114381)
    [quote]i mean a really big bright one that eats the whole sky[/quote] Hyukatake had a tail that stretched across half the sky at its best. You guys don't know this because you live under a gigantic light bubble.
  • by NormalVisual ( 565491 ) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @12:04PM (#21114857)
    Bingo. There are a *lot* of people out there that don't know what a night sky really looks like. It's kind of saddening to read reports of people calling in during widespread power failures to report "a strange silvery band in the sky", when it's just that they've never seen the Milky Way before because of all the light pollution.
  • by griffman99h ( 671362 ) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @03:17PM (#21117745)
    You are forgetting about the major increase of light pollution in modern life. Up until electric power, it was pretty dark out at night. just looking at a clear sky with no moon was enough to create awe in the eyes of superstitious. and those comets that look faint in our skies today had tails that span the horizon. unless we have a moon sized comet heading REALLY close to us. I doubt you'll get the war ending awe that was common back in the day. they are just not going to be as impressive in our polluted skies. But don't stop dreaming on my account.

There's no such thing as a free lunch. -- Milton Friendman