- Video: Comet collides with Earth!
- May 25: Comet to fall on day Jesus ascended
- Comet 73-P: Will fragments strike the Earth?
- Don't Panic! You've got another
threetwo weeks before the comet strikes the Earth!
- Don't Panic! You've got another three weeks before the comet strikes the Earth!
It's official. We're safe!
There will be no tsunamis, firestorms or mass extinctions to spoil your Memorial Day weekend.I find it interesting that Eric Julien's prediction has garnered so much attention on the Internet, including on this site, that NASA had to directly respond to his tsunami forecasts.
Although the Internet is rife with speculation that a fragment of Comet 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 3 will strike the Earth on May 25, neither the main comet nor any of its more than 40 fragments pose a danger to Earth.
"We are very well acquainted with the trajectory of Comet 73P Schwassmann-Wachmann 3," said Donald Yeomans, manager of NASA's Near-Earth Object Program Office. "There is absolutely no danger to people on the ground or the inhabitants of the International Space Station, as the main body of the object and any pieces from the breakup will pass many millions of miles beyond the Earth."
However, you can see the comet falling apart right before our eyes, thanks to NASA's Hubble Space Telescope.
Recent Hubble images have uncovered many more fragments than have been reported by ground-based observers. These observations provide an unprecedented opportunity to study the demise of a comet nucleus.
None of the comet's fragments will come closer than 5.5 million miles to Earth during its closest approaches May 12-28. That's more than 20 times the distance from the Earth to the moon.
The main fragment, designated fragment C, will pass closest to Earth on May 12 at a distance of approximately 7.3 million miles. It will be visible to small telescopes during the morning hours in the constellation Vulpecula. NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope will observe the comet in May.
Astronomers have been observing the comet for more than 75 years. The trajectory of this comet has been monitored and refined over time, and its path around the sun is well understood. Amateur and professional astronomers around the world have been tracking its spectacular disintegration for years.
The comet is currently comprised of a chain of fragments, named alphabetically, stretching across several degrees on the sky. (The sun and moon each have an apparent diameter of about 1/2 of a degree.) Ground-based observers have noted dramatic brightening events associated with some of the fragments indicating that they are continuing to break-up and that some may disappear altogether.
Image: Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys took images of the disintegration of Comet 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 3's fragment B. Credit: NASA, ESA, H. Weaver (APL/JHU), M. Mutchler and Z. Levay (STScI)
NASA | 73p | Schwassman-Wachmann Comet | Comet | May 25 | Eric Julien