Tonight the Earth will approach the comet

Comet Hartley-2 (103P/ Hartley 2), which soon will explore interplanetary station «Deep Impact» on Wednesday evening will approach Earth at a minimum distance — just over 18 million kilometers, in favorable conditions, it can be seen even with the naked eye.

Comet Hartley-2 was opened on 15 March 1986 Malcolm Hartley (Malcolm Hartley) from Australia. This comet belongs to the so-called Jupiter family — the group of short-period comets, which are removed from the Sun by about the length of the major semiaxis of the orbit of this planet. The orbital period of the comet is about 6.4 years.

According to estimates, the size of its kernel does not exceed 1,1-1,2 kilometre — it is a young dwarf comet.

According to the database of small bodies of the Solar system NASA Hartley-2 will approach Earth at a minimum distance on Wednesday, October 20, 17.33 GMT (at 21.33 time. At this point, from the earth to the comet will 0,12 astronomical unit (the average distance from the earth to the Sun), which is 18,08 million kilometers.

To see the comet at this time you will be in the constellation of Auriga, however, the best conditions for its observation will be later — on 28 October, when Hartley-2 will pass perihelion — nearest to the Sun point of the orbit. The heat of the sun will be stronger just to break the ice and frozen gas, which consists of the core and the tail of the comet will reach its maximum size and brightness. The magnitude of the guest at this point will be to reach 4.

Image of comet Hartley-2 (103P/Hartley 2) on Board the Deep Impact probe

Within a few days after the perihelion passage, the comet will be «to receive guests» — 4 November 18.02 MSC interplanetary station NASA «Deep Impact» (Deep Impact) will only 700 miles from the comet’s nucleus.

Convergence apparatus «Deep Impact» with comet will be the fifth in the history of the case, when created by human hands, the device approached the comet is close enough to take pictures of its nucleus, and the first in the history of the case, when it can be done using a camera with such a high resolution.

In addition to «Deep Impact» for the comet will be visible orbital telescope «Hubble» that will allow scientists to obtain «stereo».

The next time the comet Hartley-2 will approach Earth on September 24, 2023, but then it will be about four times farther from our planet.

Source: RIA Novosti

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