Twice the ice

By Phil Plait | June 4, 2006 10:32 pm

I just can’t get enough of 73P Schwassmann-Wachmann! It’s the one I’ve been talking about so much on this blog, since a few people with tenuous grasps on reality claimed it was going to hit the Earth (and now claim it’ll still hit in the coming weeks, though it’s already passed us).

But even without the nonsense, it’s a very cool comet. A few years ago it split up into several pieces. The picture above shows two of them as seen from Sydney Australia at the end of May. It was taken by a member of the Bad Astronomy and Universe Today discussion board (or BAUT). There are lots of other incredible images posted there as well — but you have to be a member to see them.

If you are not a member, then what are you thinking? You can go there as a guest, but membership is free, and we do nothing with your email (except, very rarely, to email members important messages about the board, like if it has to go down or something). BAUT has lively discussions on a broad range of astronomy and space subjects, and just a hint: we have big plans for it in the future too.

Join now! Obey! Submit!’

Comments (14)

  1. Nigel Depledge

    You’re preaching to the choir, Phil.

    I’m not sure that is the most appopriate analogy, but what the hey…

  2. Roy Batty

    Oh I dunno, I’m sure he gets a lot of new people dropping in everyday that don’t even know that ‘there is a forum attached to this site’ (sorry Phil ;))

  3. Kevin

    Umm, what picture Phil? :)

  4. That’s a pretty cool picture at the discussion board. I just signed up, so if I get any e-mails in the next few minutes wondering if I’m interested in Viagra, or maybe V!@gr@, I’ll know it came from you…

    Wait, I just got one, I knew it would happen if I gave out my e-mail, but thanks for the offer of a million dollars for helping out a troubled African diplomat.

  5. That was odd– the picture was fine last night when I posted the entry, but somehow the link to it got corrupted in the entry. I corrected it, so the image is back now.

  6. Evolving Squid

    Xenu flew by in a UFO and corrupted it for the collective dissing of the crop circle prediction and EJ on this blog. That’ll learn y’all!

    Cool picture indeed.

    Unfortunately, I have not had the correct combination of time and weather/seeing to allow me to observe this comet :( I wimped out of doing what I did for both Hyakutake and Hale/Bopp: stay up all night and take the next day off, mostly because it’s been so cloudy and vile outside. Prior to Hyakutake, the last comet I’d ever seen was Kohoutek, so I generally consider these things to be “skip-work” worthy. I missed Comet Halley :( Maybe I’ll still be around in 2062 (97ish years old).

    However, there are lots of pictures, so that kind of makes up for it.

  7. Jeremy

    I for one welcome our new Bad Astronomy Overlords..

  8. Swordfish

    Yes, master. Must join discussion board.

    All kidding aside, I do have a quick question about the comet. Are the pieces of this comet staying in about the same orbit, or are they moving away from each other?

  9. Mark Hansen

    I also have a couple of questions similar to Swordfish. Is there enough of the comet left to keep the designation 73P active? If so, what about the smaller pieces; will they receive new designations or do they keep their suffixes until they burn out, burn up, or collide with the Earth wreaking death, destruction, mayhem, and bad hair days?

  10. Gary Ansorge

    Guess this comet would be a good source of easily extracted H2O for astronauts on their way,,,somewhere else,,,

    GAry 7

  11. Evolving Squid

    bad hair days

    Comet-induced bad hair.

    That one is going on my excuse calendar!

  12. Kaptain K

    “All kidding aside, I do have a quick question about the comet. Are the pieces of this comet staying in about the same orbit, or are they moving away from each other?”

    Yes! ;)

    They are all staying in about the same orbit and are moving away from each other in that orbit.

  13. CR

    I’m sure this has been posted around here before, but it bears repeating:
    http://www.despair.com/wishes.html

  14. George

    Regarding this claim that 73P Schwassmann-Wachmann comet fragments could hit the Earth:
    I’m sure that astronomers have tracked the big ones and none could have posed any risk for us.
    But on wednesday, 7 jun, Norway took a good punch.

    http://www.aftenposten.no/english/local/article1346411.ece

    Record meteorite hit Norway
    As Wednesday morning dawned, northern Norway was hit with an impact comparable to the atomic bomb used on Hiroshima.

    Maybe it was just another meteorite, like many others that hit Earth with regularity.
    Or maybe not.

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