An interesting picture of the Eagle Nebula that we took today.
The latest calculations on Elenin’s orbit shows that Elenin will pass Earth on October 16th at a distance of 34.9 million km , or 91 times further away than our Moon.
For anyone still worried that Elenin is going to be an issue for Earth as some websites are predicting with their doom and gloom theories, please refer to this article in Universe Today by Australian astronomer Ian Musgrave
The Earth is now at aphelion, its farthest point from the Sun for 2011.
To be precise we reached aphelion on July 4 with Earth at a distance of 1.01677 AU or 152,106,758 km from the Sun.
We have spent way too much time on Elenin and conspiracies and will return to our primary reason for this blog……. astronomy.
Our next post on Elenin will be when NASA begins showing images of elenin late July or early August.
The picture below is taken of NGC 5866and you can clearly see the dust running through this galaxy.
We have had many people ask us why NASA has not taken pictures of Elenin with the hubble telescope. After all Hubble would take great pictures of the comet.
Well the answer is simple. The Hubble is not sitting around in orbit waiting for something to do. There is a queue a mile long from members of the scientific community who want to use Hubble and have to submit a scientific proposal which is then reviewed and approved before time is booked for using the Hubble telescope.
As we mentioned in our last post, there is very little interest in comet Elenin by the scientific community. There are that many comets around that once you have seen one the rest of them pretty much look like each other.
There are some pretty important studies going on with the hubble and looking at a comet is pretty much way down the list of priorities.
Current Hubble missions for 5th July are :
-Study of Kuiper Belt Binaries to probe Early Solar System Evolution
– Study Dark Energy Associated with Supernovae and Clusters
– Study Dwarf Galaxies to Better Understand Galaxy Formation and Evolution
– Perform Survey of a Complete Sample of Luminous Infrared Galaxies in the Local Universe
– Study Stalled Preplanetary Nebulae
The list above is performed by the Hubble today….. tomorrow other scientific proposals that have been approved will be using the Hubble.
NASA has already booked 2 weeks of valuable time with the STEREO spacecraft-B to turn it around and take pictures of comet elenin which everyone with Internet access will be able to see.
Jul 31 - Aug 12 Behind: Spacecraft rolls to observe comet Elenin
The size and brightness of comet elenin is becoming a disappointment to more astronomers who are now beginning to lose interest in the comet. Sydneystargazers also predicted this a month or so ago that Elenin may end up a fizzer like the last visit of Halley’s comet. We will still document it here but don’t expect too much fuss about Elenin in the scientific community.
Comet Elenin is currently south of the ecliptic plane but will move north of the ecliptic plane on the 14th of September at a distance of 0.6 AU from Earth or 89,758,800 km ( 233 times further away than our Moon).
When comet Elenin passes Earth at it’s closest distance on October 16 it will be 0.03 AU or 4.5 million km north of the ecliptic plane.
According to the latest orbital data on Elenin updated 3 days ago, when comet elenin passes Earth not only will it be well above the Earth’s orbit but it will also be 0.233 AU (34.8 million km away from Earth or 90 times further away than our Moon.
And since the comet will be north of the ecliptic plane, so will it’s tail. This most likely means we will not even see any meteor showers when Elenin passes.
For those who don’t know, the ecliptic plane is the plane of the Earth’s orbit around the Sun.
So to summarize…..
When it passes Earth October 16, comet Elenin will be well north of the ecliptic plane and 34.8 million km away.
Not exactly close since the minimum distance Venus gets to Earth every 1.5 years is 38 million km.
Data on Elenin suggests that the comet is only about 3 or 4km in size which makes it rather a small sized comet. Hopefully it will be still visible in the sky later this year but it certainly is not going to live up to the expectations of it currently circulating around the Internet.
Comet Elenin is no longer visible from our original observing location with the comet being just 17 degrees above the horizon.
We reserved time on a secondary telescope in a different country where the position of Elenin is a little higher in the sky….. however as you can see by the picture below we are getting a lot of interference from it’s low position to the horizon.
The picture below left shows a closer shot to comet elenin while the image below right is smaller but much each easier to see.