Turned to dust

NASA

As we know, the first signs of the breakup of the comet were noted in the middle of August by the Australian amateur astronomer Michael Mattiazzo. With each passing day the pseudo-nucleus of the comet became more diffuse and less bright. Michael observed the comet right up to its perihelion and for several days afterwards. It became apparent that the comet was irreparably breaking up, but the question remained – would we see anything on the SOHO images?

SOHO could not see the comet; neither could northern hemisphere observers, where the comet was due to become visible beginning the second week of October. I made one of the first attempts to find the comet on October 6th when it was still very low on the horizon. These observations were made during navigational twilight. I could not say for sure that I had detected the comet, although combining all the images showed a possible object. However, because motion could not be confirmed, we cannot say this was actually the comet.

The second attempt took place three days later, on October 9th. Down to magnitude 19.7, Comet Elenin was not visible in a field of view of 100 x 100 minutes of arc. The next day Ernesto Guido, Giovanni Sostero, and Nick Howes, using the 2-meter Faulkes telescope also got negative results. Their second attempt on October 17th, one day after closest approach of the comet to the Earth, also had negative results – the remains of the comet were not found.

At the moment there is not one confirmed sighting of the comet. Possibly, searches for what remains of the comet will be carried out by more powerful instruments in a few days when they can observe it without the Moon. But one can already say with certainty that the comet has turned to dust…

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MPC statistic for September – October 2011

The new monthly MPC circular released – MPC 76269- 76678.

ISON-NM statistic for the previous month (September 7 – October 7):

Number of measurements: 10437

Measured objects: 2596

Discovered objects: 61

Sky coverage: 575 sq. degrees

Observing nights*: 22

* – include partial nights

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Comet Elenin disintegrated

L. Elenin / ISON-NM Observatory

Based on the first images of the comet Elenin after its exit from the conjunction with the Sun, we can tell what comet mostly disintegrated. Maybe we can still observe  swarm of comet’s debris. On the left you can see possible position of this “cloud”. Brightness of this object does not exceed 18m, which means what now, magnitude of the comet is lower then predicted on 12m. Hopefully in the near future debris of the comet will be observed on a large telescopes, and perhaps we’ll see some details of this “cloud”. Currently the comet is very low above the horizon and I observed it in nautical twilight, but comet will quickly ascend on the Northern skies, but it’s further observations may be hampered by the full Moon….

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2011 QY37 – a month after discovery, what’s in the future?

NASA / JPL

It has been a month since the discovery of our observatory’s second near-Earth asteroid, and during that month the precision of its orbit has significantly improved. On the basis of new data we can attempt a glimpse into the future.

So, asteroid 2011 QY37 came closest to the Earth on Sept. 24th, passing 0.7 a.u. from our planet. The asteroid is a rather large body and will be observable from our observatory until the beginning of next year. Thus, its observation arc has increased to 5 months.

The next close approach of asteroid 2011 QY37 will be more favorable; in November of 2015 it will pass 0.4 a.u. from Earth, achieving a maximum brightness of magnitude 18.4. At that apparition, we will be able to observe the asteroid for half a year. The next time 2011 QY37 comes close to the Earth at the end of November 2019, it will reach mag. 17.6! It will pass at an absolutely safe distance of 0.3 a.u. This approach will be the closest for this asteroid in the near future. In 2024 it will pass 0.68 a.u. from the Earth with a maximum brightness of mag. 19.3.

At the beginning of 2012 we will increase the precision of the asteroid’s orbit, and we will return again to the analysis of future approaches of this harmless celestial body. Remember, the next close approach of another near-Earth asteroid discovered at our observatory – 2010 RN80, will take place in 2037!

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Real facts about comet Elenin

  1. At this moment the comet disintegrated into a large number of small fragments, which we may be able to see with the large telescope at the early October;
  2. The fragments of the comet did not change it path and will be flying by orbit of the comet, i.e., not will come to the Earth closer than 35 000 000 km;
  3. Currently the comet Elenin is not visible on the images from the SOHO and STEREO spacecrafts;
  4. Comet visible on images from the spacecraft STEREO-B (HI-1 camera) is comet 45P / (Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova);
  5. Comet Elenin, even if not disintegrated, do not eclipse the Sun, the density of a comet’s gas envelopes (coma) is negligible and earthly observer would not have noticed this event;
  6. The Earth will not pass through the tail of the comet, because at now it does not exist;
  7. The comet will not cause and couldn’t do any harm to us and our planet.
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