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Darren Drake
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Mars could get hit by giant comet next year!
      #5701232 - 02/26/13 09:22 AM

This would be an increadible event but the odds are pretty small at this point for an actual collision on Oct 19, 2014. Mars will be about 5.7 arcseconds and set around 9 pm local time on that day. Here is the info...
http://spaceobs.org/en/news/


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dyslexic nam
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Re: Mars could get hit by giant comet next year! new [Re: Darren Drake]
      #5701274 - 02/26/13 09:47 AM

Pardon the astrological pun, but it would be amazing if the stars could align to make this happen.

Probably wouldn't be great for any ground-based technology on Mars, but it sure would be neat from an observational perspective.


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BrooksObs
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Re: Mars could get hit by giant comet next year! new [Re: dyslexic nam]
      #5701397 - 02/26/13 10:53 AM

I would hasten to question where the assumption that the comet's nucleus is some 50km in diameter originates.

Currently the IAU Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams' ephemeris for the comet is listing an absolute magnitude of +6.0, indicating it to be a very average object. If one takes the nuclear magnitude to be +10.3, it would imply a probable size for the nucleus of more like say 5km, only a tenth of of the size indicated in the article. In contrast, a 50km cometary nucleus is an exceeding rare bird and is what one expects for brilliant comets like Hale-Bopp. As things stand now, C/2013 A1 is certainly no Hale-Bopp!

BrooksObs

Edited by BrooksObs (02/26/13 10:55 AM)


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leviathan
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Re: Mars could get hit by giant comet next year! new [Re: BrooksObs]
      #5701526 - 02/26/13 12:07 PM

Poor Curiosity.

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Astrojensen
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Re: Mars could get hit by giant comet next year! new [Re: leviathan]
      #5701575 - 02/26/13 12:27 PM

Now THAT would be a cool event to see - from Earth!


Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark


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Mike7Mak
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Re: Mars could get hit by giant comet next year! new [Re: Astrojensen]
      #5701866 - 02/26/13 03:22 PM

Careful what you wish for.

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Astrojensen
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Re: Mars could get hit by giant comet next year! new [Re: Mike7Mak]
      #5701884 - 02/26/13 03:34 PM

Quote:

Careful what you wish for.




I think you misunderstood me. What I meant was that a comet impact on Mars was a cool event to watch from (the safe and distant) Earth!


Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark


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Mike7Mak
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Re: Mars could get hit by giant comet next year! new [Re: Astrojensen]
      #5701915 - 02/26/13 03:50 PM

Quote:

Quote:

Careful what you wish for.




I think you misunderstood me. What I meant was that a comet impact on Mars was a cool event to watch from (the safe and distant) Earth!


Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark



Lol, no I got you.

'Careful what you wish for' is just a superstitious saying that warns against potential unintended consequences of wishes granted.

I agree it would be cool to witness an impact on a rocky planet. Oops.


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Dave Mitsky
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Re: Mars could get hit by giant comet next year! new [Re: Astrojensen]
      #5701916 - 02/26/13 03:50 PM

There's more on C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring) at http://www.universetoday.com/100298/is-a-comet-on-a-collision-course-with-mars/

Dave Mitsky


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Astrojensen
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Re: Mars could get hit by giant comet next year! new [Re: Mike7Mak]
      #5702017 - 02/26/13 04:33 PM

Quote:

Lol, no I got you.

'Careful what you wish for' is just a superstitious saying that warns against potential unintended consequences of wishes granted.





And I got that as well. We have the same saying in Danish, or almost.

Quote:

I agree it would be cool to witness an impact on a rocky planet. Oops.




Careful, now! It was pretty dang close to a big one just last week. Russian handymen had a field day, though.


Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark


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krp
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Re: Mars could get hit by giant comet next year! new [Re: Astrojensen]
      #5702200 - 02/26/13 06:15 PM

Wow, this would be exciting to see from earth. The two website above are saying magnitude -4 or -8 as seen from the surface of Mars. Are there an estimates for the apparent magnitude as seen from earth? I know it's probably too early to tell.

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Centaur
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Re: Mars could get hit by giant comet next year! new [Re: Darren Drake]
      #5702390 - 02/26/13 08:16 PM

Thanks for the heads-up, Darren! I’ve created a diagram with an “overhead” view of C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring), Mars, Earth and Sun. It’s for the months surrounding the comet’s encounter with Mars. It can be seen from the bottom of my comets webpage: www.CurtRenz.com/comets

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Centaur
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Re: Mars could get hit by giant comet next year! new [Re: krp]
      #5702454 - 02/26/13 08:52 PM

Quote:

Are there an estimates for the apparent magnitude as seen from earth? I know it's probably too early to tell.




By utilizing the current JPL orbital elements, I estimate it will reach a peak magnitude of +7.7 for earthbound observers on 2014 SEP 10. It should be closest to Earth at 0.89 AU on 2014 SEP 05.


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azure1961p
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Re: Mars could get hit by giant comet next year! new [Re: Centaur]
      #5702495 - 02/26/13 09:15 PM

The only chilling thing to me about this is that it brings *home* the reality these things are still perilous if even remotely. I would have to believe though if this thing hit - Curiosity wouldn't be the close of the current Mars effort and possibly CURIOSITY II would be made and sent to investigate the freshly excavated (if fused and burnt) material from the hit.

It would be tremendous Ill say that. I'd have to believe its extend our Mars program.

Pete


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Rich (RLTYS)Moderator
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Re: Mars could get hit by giant comet next year! new [Re: Darren Drake]
      #5702974 - 02/27/13 07:29 AM

Just read the article. It would certinly be cool to watch but how would it affect our Mars landers?

Rich (RLTYS)


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Tonk
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Re: Mars could get hit by giant comet next year! new [Re: Rich (RLTYS)]
      #5703011 - 02/27/13 07:55 AM

An object with a current orbit uncertainty spread of > 600,000 km aiming at a planet 6,800 km wide - humm

Which part of the uncertainly spread is Mars currently in? Elenin doesn't say but my bet its in the tail out at the << 0.001% mark :cynic: :moi:


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BSJ
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Re: Mars could get hit by giant comet next year! new [Re: Tonk]
      #5703193 - 02/27/13 10:22 AM

I loaded the comet data into Stellarium and "went" to the comet (CTRL-G), for a ride along, and then cetered on Mars.

Kinda neat to see how close Mars will be to the comet, and how quickly it's moving. Even at normal speed...


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Special Ed
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Re: Mars could get hit by giant comet next year! new [Re: Tonk]
      #5703999 - 02/27/13 06:30 PM

Quote:

An object with a current orbit uncertainty spread of > 600,000 km aiming at a planet 6,800 km wide - humm

Which part of the uncertainly spread is Mars currently in? Elenin doesn't say but my bet its in the tail out at the << 0.001% mark :cynic: :moi:




Are cooler, i.e. skeptical, heads prevailing here? Maybe that's why it's called "space" ?


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Tonk
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Re: Mars could get hit by giant comet next year! new [Re: Special Ed]
      #5704073 - 02/27/13 07:17 PM

I forgot to point out that even though Elenin estimates the comet diameter as 50 km, others (Bortle) recon that absolute brighness equates to a 5 km object. This is fair as a 50 km object is represented by Hale-Bop. Siding Springs doesn't look like its a Hale-Bop class comet.

So thats a 5 km object with a > 600,000 km uncertainty aiming at a 6,800 km cross section ....


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azure1961p
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Re: Mars could get hit by giant comet next year! new [Re: Tonk]
      #5704293 - 02/27/13 09:17 PM

Even at 5k that's still huge . The dust kicked up would be off the scale. I'd bet it'd be visible even in an 80mm. What it'd look like though I have no idea. Between the heat from the explosive impact to the sheer force sending dust up into the atmosphere - .

My hunch is its gonna fly right by - but the speculation is entertaining anyway.

Pete


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zeldaboy101
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Re: Mars could get hit by giant comet next year! new [Re: azure1961p]
      #5705438 - 02/28/13 02:25 PM

Phil Plait has a great writeup on this.
http://www.slate.com/blogs/bad_astronomy/2013/02/28/mars_impact_the_red_plane...

If it actually hits the planet, the rovers could likely be toast, and even the orbiters could be destroyed by massive amounts of ejecta.

I bet the ensuing dust cloud would be visible in telescopes. The side of Mars that could be hit is going to face us, correct? I wonder what the time of impact would be and if the we'd be facing Mars at the time to try and watch it live?

That'd be an event to drive a couple hundred miles to get to clear skies for if you can see any kind of flash!!


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Astrojensen
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Re: Mars could get hit by giant comet next year! new [Re: zeldaboy101]
      #5705446 - 02/28/13 02:31 PM

It will - as usual - be a southern hemisphere event... Mars is in Scorpius at the time and not very far from the Sun.


Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark


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Tonk
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Re: Mars could get hit by giant comet next year! new [Re: Astrojensen]
      #5705572 - 02/28/13 03:30 PM

Quote:

The side of Mars that could be hit is going to face us, correct?




Not necessarity the comet is moving from below Mars to above - so IF it hits then it could equally arrive on the hidden side or the visible side.


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Tonk
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Re: Mars could get hit by giant comet next year! new [Re: Tonk]
      #5705594 - 02/28/13 03:40 PM

Quote:

Mars is in Scorpius at the time and not very far from the Sun.




Mars should be far enough from the sun in October 2014 to be in a dark sky for somebody on this planet to make observations. See Curt's charts further back in this thread. The solar elongation is above 60 degrees I think - could be higher


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aa6ww
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Re: Mars could get hit by giant comet next year! new [Re: Darren Drake]
      #5705636 - 02/28/13 04:03 PM

Quote:

This would be an increadible event but the odds are pretty small at this point for an actual collision on Oct 19, 2014. Mars will be about 5.7 arcseconds and set around 9 pm local time on that day. Here is the info...
http://spaceobs.org/en/news/




I hate to see space media turn into a bunch of divas predicting stuff like this. It degrades them to the level of most television entertainment desperate journalists staving to grab any attention to justify their jobs instead of researching real information, data and facts.

Still. I'm ready for the collision!!!

...Ralph


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Centaur
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Re: Mars could get hit by giant comet next year! new [Re: Tonk]
      #5705639 - 02/28/13 04:05 PM

Quote:


Mars should be far enough from the sun in October 2014 to be in a dark sky for somebody on the this planet to make observations. See Curt's charts further back in this thread. The solar elongation is above 60 degrees I think - could be higher




Sixty is very close, Tonk; actually about 58.8°. So you are quite right that it will be in the nighttime sky for some observers. And indeed as you implied earlier the error range would make any hits on the near or far sides equally likely.

I’ve been in contact with Aldo Vitagliano, the creator of the Solex astronomical numerical integration program. He developed 50,000 clones of the comet that fit within the possible error range of the still quite preliminary data. After running them through Solex he got 6 hits or 0.0012%. So a collision appears extremely unlikely, though still possible. Aldo hopes to know more tomorrow. If so, he’ll send me a file with a thousand clones including a few impactors to input into my copy of Solex. That may cause me to fine tune my chart: www.CurtRenz.com/comets


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RedLionNJ
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Re: Mars could get hit by giant comet next year! new [Re: Tonk]
      #5705711 - 02/28/13 04:44 PM

Quote:

I forgot to point out that even though Elenin estimates the comet diameter as 50 km, others (Bortle) recon that absolute brighness equates to a 5 km object. This is fair as a 50 km object is represented by Hale-Bop. Siding Springs doesn't look like its a Hale-Bop class comet.

So thats a 5 km object with a > 600,000 km uncertainty aiming at a 6,800 km cross section ....




Thank you for somebody else speaking out with rationale and sensibility. When I first heard of this close pass to Mars, I immediately downloaded all the observations from the MPC and stuffed them into Bill Grey's find_orb (spectacularly powerful piece of software that's often overlooked) - estimated closest proximity to Mars was in the order of half a million kilometers with the uncertainty being about 350,000km. To me, that strongly implies "no collision possible". If this was Earth instead of Mars, it would be a zero on the Torino Scale...

Grant


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AlaskaIsCold
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Re: Mars could get hit by giant comet next year! new [Re: RedLionNJ]
      #5705748 - 02/28/13 04:58 PM

So just a question.
With the comet most likely just doing a very VERY close flyby of mars. Have they calculated what the flyby would do to its orbit?


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Centaur
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Re: Mars could get hit by giant comet next year! new [Re: AlaskaIsCold]
      #5705758 - 02/28/13 05:08 PM

Quote:

With the comet most likely just doing a very VERY close flyby of mars. Have they calculated what the flyby would do to its orbit?




Well each of Aldo's 50,000 clones would be affected in a manner that causes it's orbit too to be altered differently from all of the others (not counting the six that hit, of course).


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AlaskaIsCold
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Re: Mars could get hit by giant comet next year! new [Re: Centaur]
      #5706390 - 02/28/13 11:18 PM

Huh...
How did he run the simulation ?


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Centaur
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Re: Mars could get hit by giant comet next year! new [Re: AlaskaIsCold]
      #5706508 - 03/01/13 01:18 AM

Quote:

How did he run the simulation ?




Aldo ran it on the Solex astronomical numerical integration program that he created. Numerical integration avoids Kepler's difficulties with multi-body scenarios. It repeatedly utilizes Newton's two more basic force formulae for motion and gravitation. You can download a free copy of Solex at: http://main.chemistry.unina.it/~alvitagl/solex/

However, your copy will not have data for recently discovered comet C/2013 A1. Aldo once told me that he obtains initial positions and velocities for minor bodies from NEODyS. I expect him to soon e-mail me some preliminary data for C/2013 A1.

When data are still uncertain, Aldo generates many clones with initial conditions slightly different than the nominal solution, but within the range of possible error. For the recent flyby of asteroid 2012 DA14 he generated only 50 clones, but for this comet that is still 20 months away he generated 50,000.

If you read any of Jean Meeus' books, especially in his "Mathematical Astronomy Morsels" series, you will find Jean describing some of Aldo's simulations involving many clones.

BTW, Aldo Vitagliano is an Italian chemistry professor who happens to be extremely expert in celestial mechanics. He is a member of this message board who posts under his real name, but participates infrequently.


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AlaskaIsCold
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Re: Mars could get hit by giant comet next year! new [Re: Centaur]
      #5706533 - 03/01/13 02:05 AM

Wow... That is so much more complicated than I can understand.
haha.
It will take me a few days to try and wrap my head around Solex.

PS: Your maps are awesome.


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Centaur
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Re: Mars could get hit by giant comet next year! new [Re: AlaskaIsCold]
      #5706544 - 03/01/13 02:29 AM

Quote:

Wow... That is so much more complicated than I can understand.
haha.
It will take me a few days to try and wrap my head around Solex.

PS: Your maps are awesome.




Thanks for your kind words, Christopher. Be sure to read the Solex user manual. It can be found in the DOCS folder within the Solex110 folder as Word file SOLEX110. If that doesn't help, Aldo's e-mail address is near the top of the manual, and at the Solex website where he says inquiries are appreciated.

Numerical integration is far more accurate than any other method for predicting the positions of solar system bodies. Sorry, Kepler. For bodies with accurately known starting conditions, their past and future positions can be confidently calculated for hundreds of thousands of years, unless they pass too closely to each other. This could not be done until high-speed computers were invented to perform the chore of repeatedly calculating new positions across short time intervals.


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Re: Mars could get hit by giant comet next year! new [Re: RedLionNJ]
      #5707104 - 03/01/13 12:42 PM

Quote:

Quote:

I forgot to point out that even though Elenin estimates the comet diameter as 50 km, others (Bortle) recon that absolute brighness equates to a 5 km object. This is fair as a 50 km object is represented by Hale-Bop. Siding Springs doesn't look like its a Hale-Bop class comet.

So thats a 5 km object with a > 600,000 km uncertainty aiming at a 6,800 km cross section ....




Thank you for somebody else speaking out with rationale and sensibility. When I first heard of this close pass to Mars, I immediately downloaded all the observations from the MPC and stuffed them into Bill Grey's find_orb (spectacularly powerful piece of software that's often overlooked) - estimated closest proximity to Mars was in the order of half a million kilometers with the uncertainty being about 350,000km. To me, that strongly implies "no collision possible". If this was Earth instead of Mars, it would be a zero on the Torino Scale...

Grant




I agree, it appears Phil Plait is promoting "Bad Astronomy" now?! I'm disappointed in his falling into hyping this stuff.

IF its as close as 23,000 miles to Mars, as his speculated distance is, after better orbital data, of a 4,200 mile di. planet thats over 5.5 Mars diameters away, like missing Earth at 125,000 miles or half the distance to our Moon. We'd love to see a comet in our sky that close. But, "Close but no cigar" is what I'd say.

This impact possibility was started by a guy who doesn't know how JPL ephemeris generator works, and was debunked a month ago. Better orbital data since then hasn't raised the probability much.

http://astroblogger.blogspot.com/2013/02/will-comet-c2013-a1-siding-spring-hi...

Ron


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Centaur
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Re: Mars could get hit by giant comet next year! new [Re: Darren Drake]
      #5709089 - 03/02/13 04:22 PM

Due to the latest (March 1) observational data for comet C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring), today Aldo Vitagliano provided me with initial conditions for 2000 clones to be entered into his Solex numerical integrator. The clones represent deviations from the nominal solution within the range of reasonable error. He has upgraded the probability of collision with Mars to 1 / 333 from his previous figure of 1 / 8333.

In response, I have updated my diagram illustrating an “overhead” (north of ecliptic) view of the encounter with output from what Aldo considers to be the nominal solution. Under the nominal solution during closest approach to Mars the comet’s heliocentric eccentricity switches from hyperbolic to elliptical. The closest approach between the centers of Mars and the comet utilizing the nominal solution is 50,586 km (81,410 mi) on 2014 OCT 19 at 19:21:24 UT. My diagram can be found at: www.CurtRenz.com/comets


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Centaur
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Re: Mars could get hit by giant comet next year! new [Re: Centaur]
      #5713186 - 03/04/13 07:32 PM

I’ve added an equatorial finder chart. It may give you a better idea regarding the relative movements of Mars and the comet: www.CurtRenz.com/comets

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Tonk
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Re: Mars could get hit by giant comet next year! new [Re: Centaur]
      #5713334 - 03/04/13 08:42 PM

Thats very useful Curt.

It also shows me this event is going to be very low and close to the horizon in the worse part of my nearest city LP dome - oh well!


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Centaur
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Re: Mars could get hit by giant comet next year! new [Re: Tonk]
      #5713403 - 03/04/13 09:28 PM

Quote:

Thats very useful Curt.

It also shows me this event is going to be very low and close to the horizon in the worse part of my nearest city LP dome - oh well!




Tonk, I'll see what I can do about that.


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Darren Drake
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Re: Mars could get hit by giant comet next year! new [Re: Centaur]
      #5716707 - 03/06/13 03:54 PM

Latest update: The NEO Program Office has estimated the approach could be as close as 31,000 miles. Todays Spaceweather has a link also.
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/asteroids/news/comet20130305.html


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Centaur
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Re: Mars could get hit by giant comet next year! new [Re: Centaur]
      #5716823 - 03/06/13 04:47 PM

Quote:

The closest approach between the centers of Mars and the comet utilizing the nominal solution is 50,586 km (81,410 mi) on 2014 OCT 19 at 19:21:24 UT.




It's too late to edit my March 2nd post. I incorrectly multiplied instead of divided when converting kilometers to miles. It should have read 31,433 mi. Sorry. When are we ever going to stop using those cumbersome English measurement units?


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Re: Mars could get hit by giant comet next year! new [Re: Centaur]
      #5717560 - 03/07/13 12:08 AM

The process of running a series of predictions covering the range of known errors is called a Monte Carlo simulation.

If nothing else, this event will provide a unique opportunity for the direct comparison of the size of a planet and a comet coma/tail.


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azure1961p
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Re: Mars could get hit by giant comet next year! new [Re: GlennLeDrew]
      #5717868 - 03/07/13 08:03 AM

It would be interesting if this pass by broke up the comet like Jupiter did to Shoemaker-Levy9 and some impacted on the surface. I know it hasn't hit the gravitational muscle of Jove but if the thing gets close enough might it not get unstable?

Just a guess here.

Pete


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