Subscribe to Astronomy Now
Astronomy Now Home
Home Magazine Resources Store

On Sale Now!



The October 2014 issue of Astronomy Now is on sale! Order direct from our store (free 1st class post & to UK addresses). Astronomy Now is the only astronomy magazine specially designed to be read on tablets and phones. Download the app from Google Play Store or the Apple App Store.



Top Stories



Earthshine used to test life detection method
...By imagining the Earth as an exoplanet, scientists observing our planet's reflected light on the Moon with ESO's Very Large Telescope have demonstrated a way to detect life on other worlds...
  READ MORE

Solid buckyballs discovered in space
...Astronomers using NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope have detected a particular type of molecule, given the nickname “buckyball”, in a solid form for the first time...
  READ MORE

Steamy water-world gets the Hubble treatment
...Hubble Space Telescope observations of a 7 Earth-mass planet find an unusual water-rich world swathed in a thick, steamy atmosphere...
  READ MORE








Comet 168P Hergenrother in outburst
BY MARK ARMSTRONG
ASTRONOMY NOW

Posted: 10 October 2012


hergenrother_400x269 Comet 168P/Hergenrother imaged on October 5. Image: Denis Buczynski.

Where comets are concerned it seems like it never rains but it pours! Comet 168P/Hergenrother was predicted to be just another run-of-the-mill 14th-15th magnitude comet but has undergone an outburst and recent estimates have it at magnitude 9-10, making it currently the brightest comet in the Northern Hemisphere. This news comes hot on the heels of the news that 2012 S1 (ISON) may be an astonishingly bright comet next year, giving us a one-two punch in 2013, with 2011 L4 (PANSTARRS) already predicted to be a naked-eye comet in March.

168P was discovered by Carl Hergenrother at Catalina in 1998 and with a period of 6.9 years, this is its second return. It passed through perihelion (closest point to the Sun on its orbit) on 1 October, triggering the outburst. Recent observations and images show a very strong central condensation within an overall coma of about three arcminutes and a small tail. The comet is currently around 67 million kilometres from Earth (0.450 AU) and 212 million kilometres from the Sun (1.418 AU).

As true astronomical darkness falls arounds 8pm, the comet is already over 40 degrees up, residing within the Great Square of Pegasus, just over three degrees south-west of Alpheratz (alpha Andromeda, mag. +2), the top left hand star of the Square. It transits the southern meridian (culminates) at midnight at a very healthy 65 degrees and in the weeks to come it will move northwards into Andromeda, curving just north of the Andromeda Galaxy (M31)in the week before Christmas.

comet-168P-track Comet 168P/Hergenrother will remain well placed for the rest of the year as it track north out of Pegsus into Andromeda, passing close to M31 just before Christmas. Graphic made using Megastar 5.

At the moment it is an easy object in 20 x 80 binoculars and is yielding good images with DSLR photography. Make the most of any clear slots in the next 10 days or so while the Moon wanes. Please send any sketches and images to Astronomy Now at gallery2012 @ astronomynow.com

The Planets
From tiny Mercury to distant Neptune and Pluto, The Planets profiles each of the Solar System's members in depth, featuring the latest imagery from space missions. The tallest mountains, the deepest canyons, the strongest winds, raging atmospheric storms, terrain studded with craters and vast worlds of ice are just some of the sights you'll see on this 100-page tour of the planets.
 GET YOUR COPY

Hubble Reborn
Hubble Reborn takes the reader on a journey through the Universe with spectacular full-colour pictures of galaxies, nebulae, planets and stars as seen through Hubble's eyes, along the way telling the dramatic story of the space telescope, including interviews with key scientists and astronauts.
 GET YOUR COPY

3D Universe
Witness the most awesome sights of the Universe as they were meant to be seen in this 100-page extravaganza of planets, galaxies and star-scapes, all in 3D!
 GET YOUR COPY


HOME | NEWS ARCHIVE | MAGAZINE | SOLAR SYSTEM | SKY CHART | RESOURCES | STORE | SPACEFLIGHT NOW

© 2014 Pole Star Publications Ltd.