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News: DID A COMET CAUSE A FIRESTORM THAT DEVESTATED NORTH AMERICA 12,900 YEARS AGO?
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Newfound Comet Lulin to Grace Night Skies

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Author Topic: Newfound Comet Lulin to Grace Night Skies  (Read 79 times)
Bianca
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« on: February 07, 2009, 11:58:30 am »









Rapid track



On the night of Feb. 7, for instance, Lulin will rise above the east-southeast horizon around midnight and will appear at its highest in the sky toward the south at the break of dawn.  But on the night of the 24th, when it will be passing nearest to Earth, Lulin will be visible all night, rising in the east at dusk, peaking high in the south shortly after midnight and setting in the west around sunrise.


Currently located in the constellation Libra, Comet Lulin will appear to move on a northwest trajectory, crossing over into Virgo on Feb. 11 and passing 3-degrees north of the 1st-magnitude star Spica in Virgo on Feb. 16 (for comparison, your clenched fist held at arm's length measures about 10-degrees in width). 


On the night of Feb. 23, now virtually at its peak brightness, the comet will be sitting just 2-degrees south-southwest of the planet Saturn, which you can use as a benchmark to locate the comet.  Moreover, around this time, Comet Lulin will be racing at more than 5-degrees per day -- that's roughly the equivalent of the distance between the stars Dubhe and Merak, the "Pointer Stars" of the Big Dipper; so even a few minutes of watching with a telescope should reveal the comet's slow shift relative to background field stars.

On Feb. 27, the fading comet will slip just 1-degree south of the 1st-magnitude star, Regulus in Leo.  And come the night of March 5, Lulin -- by then probably between magnitudes 6 and 7 and no longer visible without binoculars or a telescope -- will pass to within 2-degrees of the famous Beehive Star Cluster in Cancer.
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