Comet Lemmon dazzles stargazers: one of three comets to be seen in 2013

February 22, 2013SPACEA GREEN LEMMON: At the moment there are three significant comets plunging toward the sun: Comet ISON, Comet Pan-STARRS, and Comet Lemmon. The most beautiful so far is this one: “Comet Lemmon has a beautiful tail with lovely fine structure,” says Phil Hart of Lake Eppalock, Victoria, Australia, who photographed it on Feb. 17th. The comet is now slightly closer to the sun than Earth. Solar heating has turned it into a binocular object (magnitude +5.5 to +6) barely visible to the human eye, but dazzling through backyard telescopes, as shown in Hart’s photo above. Comet Lemmon’s verdant color comes from two of the gases boiling off its nucleus: cyanogen (CN: a poisonous gas found in many comets) and diatomic carbon (C2). Both substances glow green when illuminated by sunlight in the near-vacuum of space. The combination of its colorful atmosphere and filamentary tail make this comet visually striking. Ultimately, Comet Pan-STARRS and especially Comet ISON could surpass it, but for now the most beautiful comet in the solar system appears to be a green Lemmon. –Space Watch
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10 Responses to Comet Lemmon dazzles stargazers: one of three comets to be seen in 2013

  1. Brandon says:

    Thanks Alvin. Ill re-blog this in the AM. I need to pick up a telescope so I don’t miss the shows!


  2. kajajuk says:

    Hmmm, it is like something happened a long time ago and all the debris from that event was sent on journeys to come back to mark the “anni”versary,
    perhaps the birth of the moon,
    maybe the event was a long one a very very very long time ago so there may be years of celebrating visitors…


  3. Oggie says:

    Hi Alvin,

    It’s funny and bittersweet to recall times when people scoff at the ancients and our elderly for regarding the visitation of comets as ominous. It’s turning out that they had every reason to dread these visits as signs of catastrophe. People often anchor their faith in modernity and science thinking if an asteroid do stray into our path, something straight out of a Hollywood movie can come and save the day. Sobering for people awakening from slumber conditioned by the mainstream media that things are normal and stuff like these are anomalies that come once-twice in a century. Truly, we have come to an age where the heavens are showing signs and wonders — asteroids and meteorites seemingly coming out of nowhere, the sun growing restive, the moon seemingly rising and setting in odd places. To add, weather that grows weirder by the week — we’re having rains and floods in January and February here in the tropics. Looks like new normal ain’t gonna look like anything we’ve seen before.




  4. John says:

    Could this be the Blue Kachina from Hopi prophecy – a harbinger of doom?


  5. tonic says:

    Everything in nature seems to be a double edged sword.
    But this comet is truly stunning in beauty, and witness to Gods unbounding ability of creation.


  6. Jake says:

    If I understand it correctly, the meteorite (?) that exploded over Russia came from “the other direction” and therefore was blatantly a “Whoa!… Where’d THAT come from?!?” event. My questions are:

    1) What exactly IS ‘the other direction’ and does that suggest that we are limited in our observations of meteors/asteroids by a ‘blind side’?

    2) Was the “Russian meteor” a celestial fragmentation of DA14? and if probable, if another meteor like DA14 is scheduled to say “hello” as it passes by, what is the likelihood that previous fragmentations from that meteor could blindside us too?



  7. ChemE says:

    “Comet Lemmon’s verdant color comes from two of the gases boiling off its nucleus:”

    Dude, I’m a Chemical Engineer and gasses DO NOT BOIL off in the -270 degrees Kelvin of space. That ion tail is not gas, it is charged particles from beta decay, low energy nuclear reactions and possibly thermonuclear fusion at the surface of that comet nuclei. Comet nuclei are energetic dark matter and are VERY DANGEROUS.


    • tonic says:

      Thank you so much for this info. Am I wrong in thinking that is only becoming visible as the comet receives more light? Or is this reation only taking place because it’s nearing the sun?


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