Tailed star rush to Earth

16.04.2013

A large comet Panstarrs (PANSTARRS, or C/2011 L4) closer to the Earth. In March, she was seen in the sky with the naked eye. And her sister brightest — Comet ISON — appears near the planet fall. What does this "invasion"?

Signs in the sky

Since ancient times, the appearance on the horizon of the strange wandering stars — Comets — stirred the imagination of the people. Gradually it became clear that many of them come close to the Earth periodically. For example, the famous Halley's comet arrives to our planet from the depths of the cosmos once in 75-76 years. Last arrival of the comet in 1986 ushered in a terrible event: she appeared in front of the Chernobyl disaster. And her previous appearance in 1910, as if hinting at the soon coming of the war and the revolution …

So visit two very bright comet visible this year has attracted the attention not only of astronomers. Already, rumors about these heavenly guests: not just because, they say, they have chosen our planet … But, perhaps, do not worry ahead of time? Someone had "read" in the Mayan calendar end of the world, although it was just the end of one of the great cycles of life … But what are the new comet?

Unpredictable Panstarrs

Opened in June 2011, the comet Panstarrs was the first of these two comets that were as close to Earth. This approximation and size Panstarrs made it visible in the western sky and telescopes.

Like most comets Panstarrs malopredskazuema. How it behaves, closer to the Sun at a small distance in astronomical terms, does not undertake to say no. The researchers say that the comet may fall apart under the influence of his heat. But perhaps it will continue. In this case, it shines like the brightest star.
Panstarrs consists of icy gas and surrounded by a layer of cosmic dust of the nebula age of about 4.5 billion years old. Astronomers dream is to somehow get a "piece of a comet" or even ever to land on it. After all the heavenly bodies that age make it possible to answer many questions about the origin of the universe, the stars and planets.

The brightest

But Panstarrs is not the brightest comet in the sky in 2013. In November of this year, residents of the Earth will see a very large comet ISON, which will be so bright that would eclipse the radiance of the moon.

Comet ISON (C/2012 S1) opened Russian Artem Novichonok and Belarussian Vitali Nevski September 21, 2012 at the observatory near Kislovodsk. These astronomers have given the name of a comet ISON (International Scientific Optical Network) — under the name of a computer network for remote control telescopes, to which is attached and the Kislovodsk Observatory. Through this network, all the astronomers obtained images of the sky with the remote telescopes, including those from other countries.

Comet ISON, as Panstarrs, will arrive from the Oort Cloud. This title is a giant spherical region in space, consisting of trillions of ice blocks. Sphere surrounding the solar system. The radius of the Oort Cloud is huge — about one light year, that is a quarter of the way to the nearest star.
How do astronomers believe, the threat to Earth comet ISON is not. After all, the distance from it to the Earth is about 62 million kilometers, which is comparable to the distance from the Earth to Venus.

At this time, ISON is rapidly approaching the center of the solar system. It is already "have grown" his big tail, which, with the approach to the sun will become brighter and longer. The naked eye comet will be visible in the northern and southern hemispheres with November 2013 and January 2014. The closest celestial wanderer come to Earth on 26-29 December 2013. At the beginning of October 2013 it will cross the orbit of Mars, and it is already possible to observe with binoculars, and on November 29 the comet will fly at a minimum distance from the surface of the Sun — 1.1 million kilometers. At this point, the brightness of the comet will be high and may exceed the intensity of the glow of the full moon.

Forever disappearing into the depths of space, so to say, goodbye, Comet ISON will present another surprise. 14-15 January 2014 the Earth will pass through the remains of the comet's tail, and all of us, the inhabitants of the planet, we will see a meteor rain. And then, looking at these "shooting stars" does not forget to make the most secret desires. They are sure to come true!

Alessandro Lanza

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