Sunday, October 19, 2014

comet siding spring and mars

Comet C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring) will pass within 139,500 km (86,000 miles) of the surface of Mars at 5:51 tomorrow morning (Monday 20 Oct, Sydney time - or 19 October at 18:51 UTC).  This means Comet Siding Spring will pass 10 times closer to Mars than any (recorded) comet has flown by Earth!  But it will be traveling at 50 km/s which is too fast to be captured by Mars's gravitational pull.

Comet Siding Spring was discovered by Rob NcNaught at Siding Spring Observatory in New South Wales on 3 January 2013.  Last night Steve Lee took this beautiful image of Comet Siding Spring and Mars against the dusty backdrop of the Milky Way using a 90mm refractor and Canon 6D camera, from a location VERY CLOSE to siding spring observatory!

Comet Siding Spring, Mars, and Milky Way dust (Photo by Steve Lee (AAO))
The comet is still composed of the pristine material the solar system was made from, which will give insights into the formation of planets!

more info about the comet from Dr bruce betts:

For a list of ways to view the comet (if you dont have your own telescope or are covered in clouds), see The Planetary Society blog by the great Emily Lakdawalla here

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