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jimmy m
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19 Mar 2024, 9:51 am


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19 Mar 2024, 6:23 pm

A 'devil comet' is set to swing by the sun and could be visible during the eclipse

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A “devil comet” known for its occasional outbursts is currently visible in the night sky, and lucky stargazers may even be able to spot the celestial object during next month’s much-anticipated solar eclipse.

Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks was nicknamed the "devil comet" because an eruption last year left it with two distinct trails of gas and ice in the shape of devil horns.

At the moment, the comet is visible from the Northern Hemisphere with binoculars and telescopes. But by the end of the month, the comet may be visible to the naked eye as it swings through the inner solar system and reaches its closest point to the sun in mid-April.

A comet typically has a core of dust, gas and ice surrounded by bright clouds of gas known as the coma. These celestial objects are “frozen leftovers from the formation of the solar system” and some of the largest can measure tens of miles wide, according to NASA.

Sunlight and solar radiation can heat a comet’s core, sometimes causing violent outbursts, as has happened several times with Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks.

The comet can be seen in the early evenings from the Northern Hemisphere by gazing toward the west-northwest horizon. It is expected to brighten through the end of the month and will be visible, if local conditions are clear and dark, until early May.

If the comet flares significantly in the coming weeks, it’s possible that the “devil comet” will be visible during the upcoming total solar eclipse April 8. Only those in the path of totality — a band that cuts across the country from Texas northeast to Maine where the moon will fully block the sun’s light — would be treated to the double sky show, and the forecast for such a rare, synchronized event remains uncertain.

Even still, there should be ample opportunities to spot the comet on its own in the evening sky.


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jimmy m
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21 Mar 2024, 11:27 am

Adam Block took a photograph of the comet Comet 12P/ Pons-Brooks. I wonder if the alignment will allow it to be visible during the solar eclipse?


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25 Mar 2024, 12:27 pm

Upcoming solar eclipse promises to be the best yet for scientific experiments

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April’s total solar eclipse promises to be a scientific bonanza, thanks to new spacecraft and telescopes — and cosmic chance.

The moon will be extra close to Earth, providing a long and intense period of darkness, and the sun should be more active with the potential for dramatic bursts of plasma. Then there’s totality’s densely populated corridor stretching from Mexico to the U.S. to Canada.

Hundreds if not thousands of the tens of millions of spectators will double as “citizen scientists,” helping NASA and other research groups better understand our planet and star.

They’ll photograph the sun’s outer crownlike atmosphere, or corona, as the moon passes between the sun and Earth, blotting out sunlight for up to 4 minutes and 28 seconds on April 8. They’ll observe the quieting of birds and other animals as midday darkness falls. They’ll also measure dropping temperatures, monitor clouds and use ham radios to gauge communication disruptions.

At the same time, rockets will blast off with science instruments into the electrically charged portion of the atmosphere near the edge of space known as the ionosphere. The small rockets will soar from Wallops Island, Virginia — some 400 miles outside totality but with 81% of the sun obscured in a partial eclipse. Similar launches were conducted from New Mexico during last October’s “ring of fire” solar eclipse that swept across the western U.S. and Central and South America.

“Time for the biggie! It is pretty exciting!! !” Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Aroh Barjatya, the rockets’ mission director, said in an email.

NASA’s high-altitude jets also will take to the air again, chasing the moon’s shadow with improved telescopes to study the sun’s corona and surrounding dust.

Dust sounds boring,” acknowledged NASA’s eclipse program manager Kelly Korreck. “But at the same time, dust is actually really interesting. Those are the leftover remnants from when the solar system was forming.”

More than 600 weather balloons will be launched by college students along the track, providing livestreams while studying atmospheric changes. Cloudy skies shouldn’t matter.

“Lucky for us, the balloons flying to 80,000 feet and above don’t care if it’s cloudy on the ground,” said Angela Des Jardins, an astrophysicist at Montana State University who’s coordinating the nationwide project.

And if the Federal Aviation Administration approves, a 21-foot (6.5-meter) kite will lift a science instrument three miles (5 kilometers) above Texas in an experiment by the University of Hawaii’s Shadia Habbal. She, too, wants to get above any clouds that might hamper her observations of the sun.

Normally hidden by the sun’s glare, the corona is on full display during a total solar eclipse, making it a prime research target. The spiky tendrils emanating thousands of miles (kilometers) into space are mystifyingly hotter than the sun’s surface — in the millions of degrees, versus thousands.

“In terms of the value of total eclipses, science still cannot explain how the corona is heated to such extreme temperatures,” said retired NASA astrophysicist Fred Espenak, better known as Mr. Eclipse for all his charts and books on the subject.

The U.S. won’t see another total solar eclipse on this scale until 2045, so NASA and everyone else is pulling out all the stops.

Scientists got a taste of what’s to come during the 2017 total solar eclipse that stretched from Oregon to South Carolina. This time, the moon is closer to Earth, resulting in more minutes of darkness and a wider path.

“Any time we can observe for longer, that gives scientists more data,” Korreck said.

Another scientific bonus this time: The sun will be just a year away from its maximum solar activity, as opposed to 2017 when it was near its minimum. That means lots more action at the sun, possibly even a coronal mass ejection during the eclipse, with massive amounts of plasma and magnetic field blasted into space.

Plus there are two new spacecraft out there studying the sun: NASA’s Parker Solar Probe and the European Space Agency and NASA’s Solar Orbiter. They’ll join other spacecraft on eclipse duty, including the International Space Station and its astronauts.

Closer to home, April’s eclipse, unlike previous ones, will pass over three U.S. radar sites typically used for monitoring space weather. The stations will tune in to what’s happening in the upper atmosphere as the skies dim.


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25 Mar 2024, 2:58 pm

as a PSA, if one is in Missouri, the closest city to offer totality [coming from the north of the state] is in Farmington, which will afford 2+ minutes of totality.



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26 Mar 2024, 5:02 pm

I read that the eclipse can be viewed at the northern tip of Cape Breton Island, but no way am I going to travel all the way up there to see it.

Although it does remind me of the lyrics from that song "You're So Vain":
"Then you flew your lear jet up to Nova Scotia, to see the total eclipse of the sun" :)



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26 Mar 2024, 9:44 pm

it is well worth travelling to see one even if it is your last dollar. total eclipses come so rarely in each lifetime.



jimmy m
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27 Mar 2024, 8:04 am




It is getting closer and closer.


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jimmy m
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29 Mar 2024, 12:03 pm

My wife went out to store yesterday and purchased a little ornament.
It reads "In the Path". It shows the journey of the solar eclipse through Indiana.
It reads "Bloomfield, IN - 04.08.2024

The time is getting shorter. Today was a nice day. The sky was clear. It would have been a good day for the event if it occurred today.


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jimmy m
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29 Mar 2024, 12:16 pm


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auntblabby
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29 Mar 2024, 2:38 pm

i hope it doesn't get cloudy when the eclipse comes.



jimmy m
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30 Mar 2024, 11:38 am

auntblabby wrote:
i hope it doesn't get cloudy when the eclipse comes.


Me too.


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30 Mar 2024, 11:43 am

jimmy m wrote:

Interesting to take a glimpse at places where no one ever travels to, they don't really have tourism and don't have a large enough population for there to be much excitement regularly.

Anyways, their pub crawl t-shirts should say something like "I got blackout drunk during the eclipse! Totality pub crawl 2024" or "I took a shot in the dark! Eclipse pub crawl, small town somewhere."


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30 Mar 2024, 12:29 pm

auntblabby wrote:
it is well worth travelling to see one even if it is your last dollar. total eclipses come so rarely in each lifetime.


I don't even have a car, let alone a lear jet. I don't even know if there are paved roads that go all the way to Meat Cove in Cape Breton, where I heard people are planning to go to see the Eclipse. I just hate how dependent we have to be on cars in Canada. Seriously, we estimate how far it is to someplace not by kilometers, but really by how many hours it will take to drive. :roll:



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30 Mar 2024, 1:57 pm

lostonearth35 wrote:
auntblabby wrote:
it is well worth travelling to see one even if it is your last dollar. total eclipses come so rarely in each lifetime.


I don't even have a car, let alone a lear jet. I don't even know if there are paved roads that go all the way to Meat Cove in Cape Breton, where I heard people are planning to go to see the Eclipse. I just hate how dependent we have to be on cars in Canada. Seriously, we estimate how far it is to someplace not by kilometers, but really by how many hours it will take to drive. :roll:

it is a 6 hour drive for me. it was an 8 hour drive for the madras eclipse back in '17. i moved heaven and earth to attend that one. hopefully this one will be at least mostly as good for most of the distance/time of travel involved. if i manage to witness a 2nd one in my lifetime i will have no complaints.



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30 Mar 2024, 2:53 pm

lostonearth35 wrote:
auntblabby wrote:
it is well worth travelling to see one even if it is your last dollar. total eclipses come so rarely in each lifetime.


I don't even have a car, let alone a lear jet. I don't even know if there are paved roads that go all the way to Meat Cove in Cape Breton, where I heard people are planning to go to see the Eclipse. I just hate how dependent we have to be on cars in Canada. Seriously, we estimate how far it is to someplace not by kilometers, but really by how many hours it will take to drive. :roll:


Get a motorcycle and enjoy the journey more. 8)

Everything everywhere requires driving to get to. Is what it is. There are some city dwellers who live and work within a 10 block or so radius and almost never venture outside of it. Some have care share program memberships for grocery shopping or whatever. I wouldn't want to live like that. The beach I go to all the time is 50km from home, and the kiteboarding beach is about 110km each way - something like that. And then there's just general life things like grocery shopping, visiting family or friends, work etc. Public transportation is horribly inconvenient so people tend to only use it if they can't afford to drive.. it takes 2-4 hours on public transportation to get to places that take 40-50minutes to drive, so makes life a Lot more difficult. I'd rather just drive and be there.. and since I drive a lot and don't care about "style," much I bought a Prius to minimise fuel cost.

But the motorcycle is WAY more fun! :D


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