Comet Catalina

In the new year period in December 2015 on the horizon we can observe the double-tailed comet Catalina C/2013 US10 Catalina.

Comet Catalina.

Information, data, interpretation of the significance of the comet Catalina.

Astronomical, cosmopolitisme and mythological content of the comet Catalina.

Comet C/2013 US10 Catalina.

Good news for all lovers of the starry sky — comet C/2013 US10 Catalina two weeks ago passed perihelion, the closest approach to the Sun, and now flies back to the depths of space. Until January 17, Catalina will approach closer and closer to the Ground, and in the first weeks of December, the sky in the middle latitudes it reaches the maximum sky brightness. This is a great chance to watch the comet live — even more so that the next time Catalina will be visible only after a few million years.

Features Catalina

Since the end of October 2013, when Catalina was first discovered, to the observations of the comet were connected more and more astronomers. Since last November, it can be observed from the Northern hemisphere of the Earth. As of November 30, the comet recently passed perihelion, the point of maximilianovskaya with the Sun. She’s still hot enough to keep the dense coma (the cloud of dust and gas around the nucleus) and tail — 3 Catalina spends tons of his weight in a second! Active outgassing not only make the comet brighter, but also allow scientists to determine some of its parameters — namely:

Dimensions of Catalina are quite small — none of the linear measurements of the comet may not exceed 20 kilometers. The estimated size of the comet in the first place active gassing much at all — only by using spacecraft you can see the real shape of the kernel object. The first known comet was comet Halley, which in 1986 came closer, the Soviet probe “VEGA-1 and VEGA-2” together with the European machine “Giotto”.

The structure of the Catalina is considered typical for comets — it is expected to have a large number of water ice and methane, mixed with layers of loose rock and dust.

Comet Catalina in October 2015 for a month and a half before closest approach with the Sun. This picture was taken from the southern hemisphere of the Earth.

The estimated composition of the Catalina is also based on the structure of known comets, which consist mainly of carbonaceous minerals. This space gives the body ease and makes the surface very dark. Like other comets, Catalina can only be detected when approaching the Sun, when it starts to appear coma is a cloud of dust and gas enveloping the comet.

The orbital characteristics of the Catalina is worthy of special mention, as it directly affects its observability. They are not known to the end — however, astronomers can say the following:

The distance between the comet and the Sun at perihelion equal to 0.82 astronomical units — that is, 82% of the distance between the sun and Earth. January 17, 2015 will be the maximum convergence Catalina with our planet — the distance is only 0,72.e. what is 108 million kilometers.

Speed Catalina during the close approach to the Sun was 44.4 km/s is more speed needed to overcome the solar gravity in this sector. However in earth’s sky it will move very slowly — at least for human perception.

Orbit Catalina (2013 US10) on the background plane of the Solar system.

The aphelion of the comet — the point of maximum distance from the Sun, astronomers were unable to determine. The thing is that because of its origin Catalina unlikely inhabits permanent orbit. Before approaching the planetary sector of the Solar system, the comet revolved in the Oort Cloud region of our outlying systems, remote 0.5–1 light year from the Sun. Such small bodies, like comets in the Cloud are often subjected to the influence of the galactic tidal forces and passing stars. The result of these gravitational interactions and the convergence of Catalina with the Sun.

Until the end of winter, while Catalina won’t have time to be away from the Sun, it will be possible to observe an interesting phenomenon: instead of one tail of the comet will have two! The reason for this anomaly lies in the different nature of traces of the comet. The gas component of the cometary tail is subjected to the pressure of light particles, causing the tail “hides” behind the comet from the Sun. Dust from the comet’s nucleus is more exposed to the forces of gravity, which bends the path of motion of the object. In the first few weeks after the perihelion passage, two tails Calypso will be divided most strongly — that just coincides with the best time for observations of the comet.

Research the history of Catalina.

Open the comet was 31 October 2013 in the framework of the research project “Catalina”, aimed at search for new cosmic bodies. the Project has become one of the most fertile prospecting missions — for example, from 2005 to 2008 as part of the “Catalina” was discovered 1700 new facilities. Among them notable asteroid 2006 JY26, which threatens to crash into Earth in the year 2073.

Despite the fact that the comet opened in October in Tucson Observatory, which is located in Arizona, USA, documented Catalina in August of the same year. Preparatory observations were made by the Observatory ISON-HD in Russia and the Hawaiian system of telescopes Pan-STARRS. Original Catalina was mistaken for a large near-earth asteroid, but later the error was corrected.

The study of comets continues now — after the appearance of Catalina in the Northern hemisphere of the sky, to the research connected best Observatory in the U.S., Europe and Russia. Not far behind in hard observations and lovers. Fans of astronomy know — persistent surveillance and a bit of luck allow us to make the astronomical discovery even to the layman. An example is the painter Hermann Goldschmidt, who discovered 15 asteroids with a telescope, purchased with money from the sale of the portrait of Galileo the inventor of the first telescope.

How and where to see the comet Catalina?

Since 19 November, when the comet came out from behind the Sun and appeared in the sky, it is already possible to see and even photograph. However, this would require the combination of several factors:

The right time.

Position to observe the comet on Catalina sky December 8, 2015. Indicative view.

Until early December, Catalina can only be seen in a short period of time before dawn. The guidelines will serve as the constellations Virgo and Libra, between which there will be a comet. In the month of December it will rise up through the sky higher and higher, reaching the constellation the Big dipper and the North star — which means that watching it will be closer to midnight. For example, on 20 November, Indian astronomers had to catch the Catalina for a few minutes before dawn.

8 December in Central Russia it will be visible in the picture. And January 1, the observation will be enough to get up due to the holiday table at 2am.

The right place.

The choice of the correct positions is very important for quality monitoring Catalina. This applies to both pickup and on a comet in the sky, and choosing the right place for observations. When searching for the comet, it is best to use a special orientation panoramas, or focus on the star chart — finding the constellation-guide, you can easily find the desired object.

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