Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Comet 73P: Will fragments strike Earth?

There is still a week to go before the comet strikes the Earth, or so Eric Julien, the former French military air traffic controller and senior airport manager, claims.

Instead of repeating his dire and paranoid Noah-like warnings once again, I decided to see what the rest of the scientific community is saying about the comet, officially known as 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann.

The comet was discovered on photographic plates in 1930, during the search for minor planets that also first found Pluto. Named for its discoverers, the comet has an orbital period of just under 5 1/3 years. It will be closest to earth on this pass around June 6, 2006.

In 1995, the comet began to disintegrate, and at the present time there are at least eight known fragments. It is one of these fragments that Julien predicts will strike the Atlantic Ocean on May 25 with enough force to cause a tsunami. I could find no government or astronomical website that confirmed Julien's hypothesis.

The official word on how far away the fragments will be from Earth? Six million miles, or about 0.075 astronomical units. When asked if there was any danger of collision with the Earth, Don Yeomans, head of NASA's Near Earth Object Program at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory said, "Goodness, no."

"This is a rare opportunity to watch a comet in its death throes — from very close range," he added.

The trajectories of these smaller fragments are difficult to determine, because they continue to fall apart, and each time they do, a new trajectory is established. I guess we'll know in just over eight days if Julien was right or not.

Star charts show that Comet 73P will appear to be passing through the constellation Pisces, the Fishes, a symbol of Christianity, during May. It will leave Pisces (specifically, the right-hand fish) around May 25 and enter the constellation of Cetus, the Whale. The water references are interesting to note, in light of Julien's prediction of a watery calamity.

The two fishes of Pisces remind me of the two fishes which in Judeo-Christian tradition were used by Jesus to feed the multitude. The two fishes might also represent the two Christianities — the one that became Roman Catholicism and the one that became Christian Gnosticism.

In Greek mythology, Cetus, a terrible sea monster, was directed by Poseidon, god of the sea, to "lay waste to the land, and kill the people, and kill the cattle" as punishment for some perceived slight by Cassiopeia, the Queen. An oracle consulted by the King, Cepheus, said the monster would cease his havoc if the Princess Andromeda would be sacrficed to the monster. Andromeda was left chained to rocks to await her fate, destruction by Cetus the sea monster. She was saved at the last minute by Perseus, brave son of the Ruler of the Gods, Zeus.

The Jesus reference — son of God saves innocent representative of the people from monstrous calamity — seems glaring to me.

It's only coincidence, surely, that this astronomical event — the proximity of the comet in these two constellations and their representative stories — would happen during a time when great conflict is taking place on Earth between the "brave son of God," Jesus, and His church, and the "monstrous" and "most blasphemous thing ever," The Da Vinci Code movie.

It's also only coincidence that the same studio that produced The Da Vinci Code has another film, called Poseidon, floundering at the box office.

Surely, just coincidences. Cosmic synchonicities like that just don't happen. "As above, so below" doesn't really mean what it says, does it?

Image: Copyright 2006 by Mike F. Hollloway. Taken on April 27, 2006, with a 4-inch f/5.3 FSQ refractor and an FLI Maxcam 10 CCD camera. It is composed of three 40-second exposures. The field of view is about 1 x 1.5 degree, with north at the top and east to the left. The image shows fragments "B", the bright comet on the left side, and "G", the faint comet on the right side.

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  1. You are enjoying this comet thing way too much.

    I'm still looking forward to the Maya end of time in 2012. I love telling people, in a casual tone of voice, that the world is coming to and end at that time. If they bite I follow up with..

    "Nah, not really, we are all just going to be transformed into beings of pure light and energy."

    That's when they nod and, if they have any sense about them, say 'Cool!'

  2. Me? Enjoying the comet thing?

    Nah... I'm just hoping my property values will soar when my former mountain property becomes prime oceanfront. I'll subdivide! Condos! Sushi bars! A boardwalk!

    Transformed? I thought we already were beings of light and energy. I mean, I am... aren't you? :)

  3. "Transformed? I thought we already were beings of light and energy. I mean, I am... aren't you? :) "

    Technically true..but I am trapped in my matter reality labyrinth most of the time.

  4. Excellent commentary on this comet. I referenced your site in this forum.

  5. Thanks, Tom Green.

    We appreciate the traffic. Even if only for the next five days.

    After that, the Great Flood of the 21st Century will force survivors to to living in caves in the mountains with nothing but Bic lighters for heat, looted from a Kentucky convenience store along with Slim Jims and other meat byproducts.


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