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Centaur
2010-Dec-30, 10:12 PM
Comet C/2010 X1 Elenin is coming. Right now it is magnitude +19, but initial estimates indicate it could be as bright as magnitude +3.4 in early September. Its orbital plane is inclined only 1.85° to the ecliptic. Perihelion is expected on 2011 SEP 05 (Labor Day) with passage nearly midway between the Earth and Sun on SEP 14.

I’ve created three related graphics. The first plots the comet in equatorial coordinates from JUL 25 to NOV 16. The second plots the comet in horizontal (alt-az) coordinates from Chicagoland during its evening apparition from JUL 25 to SEP 04. The third plots the comet in horizontal coordinates from Chicagoland during its morning apparition from SEP 21 to NOV 17. They can be seen at http://www.curtrenz.com/astronomical

Photos and descriptions of the comet would be welcome additions to this thread.

EDIT: This is an old thread of mine with stale information that someone bumped up today. I had created a later version on this subject with updated data: http://www.bautforum.com/showthread.php/112674-Comet-Elenin-Update-prior-to-March-14-Opposition

Swift
2010-Dec-30, 10:22 PM
Very cool. I feel we are overdue for a nice comet.

PetersCreek
2010-Dec-30, 10:43 PM
Viewing here will be a challenge to say the least...doggonit.

Romanus
2010-Dec-31, 02:39 AM
Thanks for the update--hopefully it'll be another gem. :)

beskeptical
2011-Mar-14, 07:31 PM
How close is the comet going to come to Venus? From the JPL orbit diagram (http://ssd.jpl.nasa.gov/sbdb.cgi?sstr=C/2010%20X1;cad=1;orb=1;cov=0;log=0#orb) it is too crude to tell but it peaks my interest.

Centaur
2011-Mar-14, 08:22 PM
How close is the comet going to come to Venus? From the JPL orbit diagram (http://ssd.jpl.nasa.gov/sbdb.cgi?sstr=C/2010%20X1;cad=1;orb=1;cov=0;log=0#orb) it is too crude to tell but it peaks my interest.

I took up your challenge, beskeptical, and wrote a short program utilizing subroutines that I had created much earlier.

Comet Elenin will approach closest to Venus on 2011 AUG 27 at a distance of 0.971 AU.
Comet Elenin will approach closest to Mercury on 2011 SEP 06 at a distance of 0.748 AU.
Comet Elenin will approach closest to Mars on 2011 OCT 28 at a distance of 1.438 AU.

Sorry, no stupendous collisions to watch.

Centaur
2011-Mar-14, 08:39 PM
I should note some changes to the figures given in my December OP in order to update to JPL’s latest orbital solution of 2011 MAR 10:

Brightest at magnitude +6.2 on 2011 SEP 20
Orbital inclination 1.841°
Perihelion on 2011 SEP 10 at 0.482 AU
Between Earth and Sun on 2011 SEP 26
Perigee (closest to Earth) on 2011 OCT 16 at 0.234 AU

I’ve also added an animation of the comet to my website. And I now have a separate webpage for comets at: http://www.curtrenz.com/comets

beskeptical
2011-Mar-14, 09:15 PM
Thank you.

BTW, I love your animations. Of course, our friends at GodLikeProductions will no doubt love how close the Earth 'appears' to the comet. Those guys are fun to watch, aren't they? ;) It's hilarious how the Nibiru crowd just emerges out of the woodwork anytime there is some fresh end-of-the-world fodder for them to chew on.

Centaur
2011-Mar-14, 09:32 PM
Thank you.

BTW, I love your animations. Of course, our friends at GodLikeProductions will no doubt love how close the Earth 'appears' to the comet. Those guys are fun to watch, aren't they? ;) It's hilarious how the Nibiru crowd just emerges out of the woodwork anytime there is some fresh end-of-the-world fodder for them to chew on.

You’re welcome, beskeptical, glad to have helped. How right you are! My website analytics show that my site gets a huge number of hits from links to it supplied in GodLikeProductions posts, even though I have not been posting there. Despite my graphics indicating that the comet will only get as close as Venus often does, the posters there seem to take them as proof that a collision is possible. Apparently they only notice that in a 2-D diagram the orbits appear to intersect. The actual situation is 4-D, i.e. includes both ecliptical latitude and the dimension of time. Even if ecliptical latitude is ignored, the comet and Earth do not reach the orbital intersection at the same time.

The misimpression is what motivated me to create the animation. It’s been getting more hits than the other graphics, so maybe it will cool off a few of the woo woos. But many of them continue to invent reasons why this or something else is their imagined Nibiru. I wonder what they will cook up in 2013?

beskeptical
2011-Mar-14, 10:18 PM
OK, I have another curiosity question. How close does the comet have to pass by Earth for our gravity to alter the comet's orbit by any significant amount?

Centaur
2011-Mar-14, 10:32 PM
...significant...

That’s the key word which requires greater precision. All matter gravitationally affects all other matter in the universe. The effect varies with the inverse square of the separations.

Hornblower
2011-Mar-14, 10:36 PM
OK, I have another curiosity question. How close does the comet have to pass by Earth for our gravity to alter the comet's orbit by any significant amount?

That depends on how much of a change you consider to be significant. Earth's gravitational reach is unlimited, but at large distances the perturbations may be unobservably slight, especially with a comet, where jet action from outgassing from the nucleus could mask slight perturbations from the planets.

Centaur
2011-Mar-18, 01:46 AM
Sorry, but this comet might turn out to be a bust. I’ve updated my graphics to comply with the March 16th JPL orbital solution: http://www.curtrenz.com/comets . That results in a prediction for greatest brilliance at magnitude +8.4 on October 4th. However, the IAU is still sticking with its magnitude +3.8 prediction. It’s expected to pass 0.234 AU from Earth on October 16th, which is similar to the distance to Venus every 1.6 years.

Nevertheless, woo woos on the conspiracy message boards fear it is Planet X/Nibiru coming to collide with Earth. My website analytics tell me that I’ve been getting a huge number of hits to my comet graphics from those sites, despite my never posting there. Many of those folks simply look at a 2-D diagram and notice that the orbits seem to intersect. In 3-D they do not, and the two bodies do not arrive at the 2-D point of intersection at the same time.

Swift
2011-Mar-18, 01:58 AM
Sorry, but this comet might turn out to be a bust.
Ah.... I've been hoping for a really good comet; it seems like it has been a while.

otakenji
2011-Mar-20, 05:09 PM
By loading the latest elements into my astronomy program of choice, I have discovered that Comet C2010 X1 Elanin will pass nearly in front of the Pleiades star cluster on November 22, 2011. This may make for some spectacular astroimaging.
https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/_v8ldUTSpWsA/TYYvdV6cENI/AAAAAAAACjI/VCV3QW_cq9M/s800/Comet%20C2010%20X1%20Elenin%20Nov%2022%202011%20in %20Pleiades.jpg