Deep Impact!

By Phil Plait | July 3, 2005 11:38 am

In less than 12 hours as I write this, the Deep Impact probe will slam into comet P/9 Tempel 1 (or just Tempel 1 to its friends). The impactor (an 800 pound mini-probe) has been released successfully, and is on its way to destiny. Impact is scheduled for 10:52 Pacific (US) time tonight.

If you live in the UK (or have access to the BBC), there is a program called StarDate that will cover much of the event live. I was interviewed for it the other day. My segment is with host Brian Cox, and we talk about the real-life science of the movie “Deep Impact”. You can find more info on my bulletin board (with a picture too).

I’ll be observing the comet tonight, using my school’s new robotic telescope named GORT. If you want to see the impact for yourself, you’ll need a fairly big ‘scope (with at least an 8″ mirror) and dark skies. If you want to know where to look, my old friend Jane Houston Jones has written an great article with many links to more info, including a finder image courtesy of Sky and Telescope magazine.

If you’d rather follow along on the web, try the National Optical Astronomical Observatory website. There are many, many professional ‘scopes aimed Tempel 1′s way, and they’ll be updating their webpages in real time with images, and video. Here is a list of other web sources of live images.

Minute-by-minute mission updates are being posted at SpaceFlightNow.

Also, lots of people on the Bad Astronomy Bulletin Board are buzzing about this. Check out the General Astronomy forum for lots of discussions. I’ll be posting there tonight from the observatory if I can.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Cool stuff

Comments (9)

  1. Michelle Rochon

    Now THAT is something I can’t wait to see the result of. Too bad I won’t be able to see it myself, or I would have… I’m not much for viewing events over the internet. But I might make an exception for that one :D

  2. bad novice

    I’ll be trying to see this with my 8″ Dob. (staying up tonight !!). I’m not kidding myself into thinking that it would be spectacular to watch :) .
    I was just watching a CBS news item. After, what i thought, was a decent coverage with expert comments, the anchor commented in a smart-ass way, “Hope it wont be set in a collision course with Earth”. Hello!, the NASA team was just saying that the comet was too big to be thrown out of its current orbit. I hope the anchors listen to their own news items ;)

  3. Ajith

    “0345 GMT (11:45 p.m. EDT)
    A jar of peanuts is being passed around the control room. This is a tradition in which the controllers have a handful for good luck”

    Even the NASA cannot escape from clutches of superstition. I think its a shame!

  4. Patrick

    Just got back from the Denver Museum of Natural History….They had engineers from Ball, and some scientists from CU talking about it, and NASA tv during the impact. It was amazing…

  5. I was on paltalk with fellow BABBIlers- it was amazing!

    The impact was huge! :) .

    I’m going to try to track it down with my scope(it’s an 8″ so I hope it gets it) tonight if the clouds behave :) .

    “”"
    “0345 GMT (11:45 p.m. EDT)
    A jar of peanuts is being passed around the control room. This is a tradition in which the controllers have a handful for good luck�

    Even the NASA cannot escape from clutches of superstition. I think its a shame!
    “”"
    I think it’s all in good fun :)

    P.S.
    I’ve got all the images from the NASA TV coverage colected here: http://www.scotsons-shack.com/dimages.htm

  6. Roy Batty

    Good interview Phil! .. just this moment watched it :-)

  7. My truck’s license plate is GORT. Hee hee…

    What a mission. I had a C08 all ready to go, and Kansas was slammed by the biggest storms of the year last night – what great timing!

    We’re coving all the latest developments at Stars Over Kansas.

  8. Candy

    The program *snip* from Sticks was very entertaining! Great job, Phil.

  9. Robert Carnegie

    Did I correctly hear on BBC coverage that success of the mission was announced in the control room by a tannoy call for more peanuts?? ;-)

    Re Brian Cox, is it impolitic, or redundant, to mention the Luxuriant Flowing Hair Club for Scientists(TM)?

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