Monday, January 6, 2014

Comet Siding Spring C/2013 A1 Update

Image Credit: P.Lake Q62 T31 0.5m Planewave + CCD F/4.4 120 Secs Luminance 6th Jan 2014

Happy New Year - to all the readers of the AARTScope Blog!

Lets hope its going to be a great new year. Its all ready off to a great start astronomicly speaking, with a small 1-3 meter asteroid that obtained the very first preliminary designation of 2014 AA breaking up in the atmosphere before Astronomers had even finalised the calculation that it was going to hit us. Fortunately on this occasion it was a very small size causing a bright fireball just off the coast of West Africa which, so far, no-one has reported seeing. It was however picked up on some of the powerful infrasound detectors used to watch out for Nuclear Test Ban Treaty violations.

Given the very small size of this asteroid, something that small hits us every 1-6 months, so its not an unusual event, but very unusual to photograph an inbound bolide like that before it hits. 2008 TC3 was the only other asteroid to be photographed before it hit the earth, in October 2008.

Given its designation of 2014 AA, I thought I check up on that other "A Grade" designation for C/2013 A1 Siding Spring, which was the first comet discovered in 2013. It is being watched carefully due to its close approach to Mars in October 2014. My previous effort back in Nov 2013 is here.

Comet C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring) is now sporting a nice 105 arcsec tail with hints of a nice jet developing, it is currently around Mag 14-15.

Image Credit: P.Lake Q62 T31 0.5m Planewave + CCD F/4.4 120 Secs Luminance 6th Jan 2014

The passage of Comet Siding Spring will be watched with great interest and will undoubtably be one of the highlights of 2014 as it passes close to Mars just after the arrival of the NASA's MAVEN Probe, and of course India's first orbital mission MOM will be close by as well.

Clear skies & and happy new year once again!

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