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Armageddon – For real this time March 17, 2010

Posted by psmc in America, Armageddon, astronomy, Comets, Enviroment, Evolution, Explosions, history, Mayan Prophecy, Mayans, Moon, Science, Sun.
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There has been a lot of Doomsday talk lately.  Actually there has ALWAYS been a lot of Doomsday talk. I’m pretty sure there were some early cavemen were convinced the Ice Age was the end of the world. However, it WAS for the end for Neanderthals, so they had a point back then. But ever since then, all the Doomsday talk has never seemed to have panned out. After all we are all still here, more or less. 

I am fairly certain, that on the date in question nothing will happen. Except that my godson Jacob will turn 21. Especially after a Mayan elder stated he was fed up with all those questions about 2012 http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/10/12/ap/strange/main5378465.shtml . Apparently, present-day Mayans are unaware the world is to end in 2012. When questioned, most Mayans will have no idea what you are talking about. They have more concrete concerns like their crops and the rain. But then one should be suspicious since it is only Westerners, usually ones that have expensive books to sell or pricy workshops that need attending, that talk about it.

However new evidence has come to light there is an Apocalypse coming. But it has nothing to do with the Mayans or any prophet climbing out of a well.

The satellite Hipparcos recently identified that a star, Gliese 710, is on a collision, or near collision, with the Solar System. Current estimates state the closest approach it will be .15 light years away. This is extremely close in terms of stellar distances. It is as if you were standing on a road and a large truck sped past you and missed you by 6 inches.

An actual collision is extremely remote, however there will be the gravitational effects to deal with. Gliese 710 will pass through the hypothetical Oort cloud. The Oort cloud is a sphere of comets and other debris left over after the Solar System formed. It is thought to extend out to 2 light years. We could be talking about a lot of comets being disturbed. If they are there, then there could be hundreds, if not thousand, of comets sent hurtling towards the Sun, and by extension us. And we all know what happened to the dinosaurs when something similar struck the Earth.

However there is no need to get into a panic just yet. First, the Oort Cloud is only hypothetical, it may not even exist. Second, some astronomers have models that indicate that if the Oort cloud does exist the chance of impact increases by only 5%. And third, and most importantly, this won’t occur for 1.5 million years. So we have some breathing room. This should give us some time to figure what, if anything, we should do. However if our descendents are anything like us, they probably won’t do anything at all until it is too late.

Up in the sky…It’s a bird..It’s a plane…It’s 17/P Holmes 2007 !! October 31, 2007

Posted by psmc in astronomy, Comets, Explosions, Science.
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Nature is putting on an impromptu and impressive display for us to enjoy.  Well, for us in he Northern Hemisphere.  Sorry Lisa, Lou and the rest of Australia.  Comet Holmes, first seen in 1892, has suddenly brightened from a visual magnitude 10 to a visual magnitude 3.  For those of you not familiar with astronomical magnitudes, this means the comet suddenly brightened  630 times.   In astronomy the SMALLER the magnitude number the brighter it is, for example the Sun has a magnitude of -27.  Also visual magnitude refers to how bright it seems to us.  Comet Holmes is now on the part of its orbit that will carry it away from the Sun, so it will get progressively dimmer, eventually fading from view.

Finding this comet is relatively easy.  Look for Casseiopeia, it appears as a misshapen W, M, E or 3 depending on its orientation. Once you find it, look at the two stars that form the second leg of the W.  Then continue the is leg DOWN from the W.  The next group of stars you will come to is the Constellation Perseus.  In fact line will pass right by Comet Holmes, at it will for the next week or so.  It will appear starlike to the the naked or  perhaps a bit fuzzy depending on how dark and clear you location is.  It will also have a yellowish tint to it.  It is more impressive in even a modest pair of binoculars.  It will appear a large fuzzy, yellowish dot.  The comet rises early and is visible throughout the night.

Comets are ephemeral by nature so its appearance can and most likely will change as time goes on.  If you get a chance, go out and look for it.  It should be visible and relatively easy to find for the next month or so.  If you like what you saw or didn’t get a chance to see it it will be back in August 0f 2013.  Hopefully it will be brighter on its return than it was this time. Since there is a good chance that most of the material placed into its coma by this recent outburst will still be present on its return.