Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Great Comets of 2014


The tables below list known comets that will reach perihelion in 2014. The top table includes a list of comets, which have the best chance of reaching naked-eye visibility in 2014 or are otherwise unusual. The bottom table includes a list of all comets to reach perihelion in 2014. The table is sortable by formal name (designation), informal name, discovery, next perihelion, orbit (in years), and diameter.

Comet Holmes
(Perihelion Mar 27, 2014)
Over the course of 42 hours in October of 2007, Comet Holmes (17P/Holmes) became a half million times brighter on its way to becoming the largest object in the solar system - larger than the Sun, or Brad Pitt's ego, if only for a brief time. Holmes is one of the more prominent comets in 2014.

Comet 209P / LINEAR
(May 6, 2014)
Russian astronomer, Mikhail Maslov, believes Earth will pass through the tail of Comet 209P / LINEAR between 7:00 and 8:00 UT on May 24, 2014. It could result in a meteor storm producing between 100 and 400 meteors an hour. Viewing conditions will be particular good in Canada and the United States. Circle this date on your calendar.

Comet Faye
(May 29, 2014)
Comey Faye (4P/Faye) was discovered in 1844 by a French astronomer. It was the first periodic comet to be named after its discoverer and not the individual who determined its orbit. This comet will reach perihelion a couple days after Comet Holmes in 2014.

Comet Brooks 2
(June 7, 2014)
The fragmentation of Comet Brooks 2 is believed to have been caused by a close pass to Jupiter in 1886, when it passed .001 AU from Jupiter. The gravity of the planet tore the comet into fragments. The fragmented comet was observed for the first time, in recorded history, three years later on July 7, 1889.

Comet Siding Spring
(Oct 25, 2014)
There is currently a 1 and 120,000 chance that Comet Siding Spring (C/2013 A1) will hit Mars on October 19, 2014. Based on Leonid Elenin's recent observations, Comet Siding Spring will pass 0.000276 AU (41,300 km, 25,700 miles) from the surface of Mars. For comparison, the average distance between the Earth and Moon is .00257 AU (384,400 km, 238,900 miles).

Soho Comets
(Various perihelion dates in 2014)

Dozens of tiny, sungrazing comets are expected to return to tightly orbit the Sun in 2014 or end their lives in its corona. These comets will probably only be observable from space observatories like SOHO and LASCO. The general public can comb through movies and images captured by SOHO, attempting to discover comets in 2014.

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