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Comet Lulin Closest To Earth Tonight 60

William Robinson writes "Comet Lulin, formally known as C/2007 N3, which is on a visit to the inner solar system, will make its closest approach to earth tonight, about 38 million miles away. To the naked eye, the comet looks like a fuzzy patch of hazy light in the southeastern sky near Saturn, at the tip of Leo the Lion's hind leg. After this brief visit, Lulin will be heading back out to its kin in the Oort Cloud."
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Comet Lulin Closest To Earth Tonight

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  • Next time.. (Score:5, Funny)

    by onion2k ( 203094 ) * on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @10:37AM (#26981513) Homepage

    If you're a bit too busy to go out of the basement to look, bear in mind that it won't be coming around again for another 50 million years (give or take 500,000 or so), so you might want to brave going outside after all.

  • by gardyloo ( 512791 ) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @10:39AM (#26981527)

    Too bad the /. posting is a day late.

  • by Vandil X ( 636030 ) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @10:46AM (#26981637)
    Just like Halley's Comet, you won't be alive for another chance to see it. Hopefully, it will be more visible than Halley's was back in the day.
    • Actually, I very much hope to be alive for the next perigee of Halley's.

    • by Nos. ( 179609 )

      I was 11 when it appeared in 1986, which puts me at age 86 when it comes back. Not guaranteed, but a definite possibility.

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  • Monday? (Score:2, Informative)

    by eyd ( 8261 )

    Uh, I believe this happened Monday night.

  • by yeremein ( 678037 ) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @11:20AM (#26982011)

    I got a picture of Comet Lulin [] early Saturday morning.

    It's not nearly so impressive as Holmes was last year - but it certainly moves impressively fast. When I was taking test shots to check focus, I saw the comet visibly moved relative to the stars in 15 seconds. Holmes wasn't nearly that fast. I made an animation [] showing its motion relative to the stars over a period of 20 minutes.

  • by edremy ( 36408 ) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @11:26AM (#26982075) Journal
    Went out to see it on a perfectly clear (if rather freezing) night last night. It's very easy to find if you know where to look (hint to self next time- make sure to check if your finder chart is EST or UTC :^), but it's not really naked eye visible.

    Even in my 8-inch scope it was pretty underwhelming. This was nowhere near a Comet Holmes type event, where it was obviously naked eye visible and glorious in any kind of optics. Flipped the scope around and went cluster hunting, so the night wasn't a wash :^).

    You can still see it tonight (and for the next week) if you want: bring binoculars at the minimum. A finder chart is at Sky and Telescope []. Note that the chart on that page is for 9PM EST but that the detailed charts are UTC.

  • by jeffb (2.718) ( 1189693 ) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @11:51AM (#26982423)

    The comet did not disappear with a pop at 0000 GMT.

    It may have been a little brighter last night, but the difference was almost certainly imperceptible. It was still an extremely marginal naked-eye object -- you need really dark skies to see it without binoculars or a telescope.

    If you're a comet aficionado, it's kind of nice. With a good scope and well-trained eye, you might glimpse some color, and you might be able to make out the tails. If you're set up for astrophotography (with a tracking mount for your camera), you can get some good photos. But if that's the case, you probably didn't need Slashdot to tell you this was coming.

    • there's a small chance the comet may actually appear brighter over the next couple days, because it happens to be moving into direct opposition to the sun (ie the sun, earth, and comet will be lined up in a nearly straight line and in that order), and the opposition effect [] may increase light reflected from the coma.

    • by jgrahn ( 181062 )

      It may have been a little brighter last night, but the difference was almost certainly imperceptible. It was still an extremely marginal naked-eye object -- you need really dark skies to see it without binoculars or a telescope.

      I see the comet tonight in my trusty East German Zeiss Jenoptem binoculars. It's a cloud, a bit more dim than the Andromeda galaxy, but clearly visible even with the light pollution. Neat. As a bonus, I got to see Saturn again. I lost track of it in Gemini a few years back ...

  • At Sky and Telescope's [] site. Pretty pictures, too.
    • People have always wondered where comets come from and still don't really know. This postulated Oort cloud has never been discovered or any evidence of such a thing been found. So this comet like others will disappear into the distant reaches of the solar system or beyond. The truth of the matter is that nobody really knows the source and origin of comets.

  • - From what I hear - they said it was visible with binoculars, but I don't think I found it even with my 10x50s, and this comet is not worth digging out the scope in this bitter cold weather to search for it, unless it warms up maybe.
    On the bright side, while looking for it Monday evening, I just happened to catch a bright pair of meteors breaking up in the sky right overhead, in the NE sky about 45 degrees azimuth, at about 20:15 or so; it looked a bit like two bottle rockets traveling northeast - wit
  • Finally! A chance to catch up to my friends from Heaven's Gate. And with this economy, perfect timing! All I need is $5.75 and a bottle of vodka.

The last thing one knows in constructing a work is what to put first. -- Blaise Pascal