Research Notes – Comet & Orion

The Talmud records the oral tradition of the Jews (Berachoth 58b) which tells us that when a comet passes through the constellation Orion, the world would be destroyed. The Comet Hale-Bopp would appear to be a fulfillment of this sign. It entered the region of the sky known as Orion on May 20, 1997 and exited on June 16, 1997. Another comet appeared shortly afterward whose path paralleled that of Hale-Bopp. This comet, 1998 J1, or, “SOHO,” has passed through Orion as well, and according to Bob Wadsworth’s study of these two celestial objects, both entered the ancient constellation Argo on the same day, June 14, 1998. SOHO entered from the northwest, and Hale-Bopp, from the southwest.


The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge Embracing Biblical, Historical, Doctrinal, and Practical Theology and Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Biography from the Earliest Times to the Present Day By Johann Jakob Herzog, Philip Schaff, Samuel Macauley Jackson, Albert Hauck, George William Gilmore, Charles Colebrook Sherman


The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge Embracing Biblical, Historical, Doctrinal, and Practical Theology and Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Biography from the Earliest Times to the Present Day By Johann Jakob Herzog, Philip Schaff, Samuel Macauley Jackson, Albert Hauck, George William Gilmore, Charles Colebrook Sherman


The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge Embracing Biblical, Historical, Doctrinal, and Practical Theology and Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Biography from the Earliest Times to the Present Day By Johann Jakob Herzog, Philip Schaff, Samuel Macauley Jackson, Albert Hauck, George William Gilmore, Charles Colebrook Sherman

Hale-Bopp
On July 23, 1995, an unusually bright comet outside of Jupiter’s orbit (7.15 AU!) was discovered independently by Alan Hale, New Mexico and Thomas Bopp, Arizona. The new comet, designated C/1995 O1, is the farthest comet ever discovered by amateurs and appeared 1000 times brighter than Comet Halley did at the same distance. Normally, comets are inert when they are beyond the orbit of Jupiter, so it has been speculated that Comet Hale-Bopp is either a rather large comet or experienced a bright outburst (or both). The comet is the brightest comet since Comet West in 1976. From Hubble Space Telescope images, the comet’s diameter has been determined to be about 40 km. The Pic du Midi Observatory has ascertained from their observations that the comet’s rotation rate is 11.4 hours.

30cm f10 Cassegrain on German Equatorial Mount (All home built) mounted in dome.

Observer: Marc Bos Location: Mt. Molehill Observatory, Otahuhu, Auckland, New Zealand Date: April 19, 1999 08:27 UT 20 minute exposure. CCD Camera: ST6b unfilterd -40C, Track and Accumulate. Telescope: 30cm f10 Cassegrain on German Equatorial Mount (All home built) mounted in dome.

Hale-Bopp 1998 Dec 11.5, sum of 3 60 sec exposures. Processed to give an appearance similar to that in a large aperture telescope. An extensive dust tail is still visible to the North of the comet in this 12' X 14' frame with North at the top. The comet is currently about 7.2 AU ( 1.08 billion km) from Earth. Wavy diagonal lines are a CCD artifact. Taken with a 45cm f/5.4 Newtonian and AP-7 CCD (from a Planetary Society NEO Observing grant) from Loomberah NSW Australia.

Hale-Bopp 1998 Dec 11.5, sum of 3 60 sec exposures. Processed to give an appearance similar to that in a large aperture telescope. An extensive dust tail is still visible to the North of the comet in this 12

According to recent orbital calculations by astronomers, (re. Daniel W.E. Green of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics) this same comet we now call Hale-Bopp passed through the inner solar system once before – about 4210 years ago. The Flood began 1656 years from Adam, in the Fall of the year we know as 2238 BC. That was 4234 years ago. If the comet appeared somewhere around 4210 years, it was the time of the great flood. According to what is recorded in the Seder Olam Rabah, an ancient Jewish text, we may observe that a comet appeared at about the time Noah began building the ark. It was probably the comet we know now as Hale-Bopp!

Comet Hale-Bopp (formally designated C/1995 O1) was probably the most widely observed comet of the twentieth century, and one of the brightest seen for many decades. It was visible to the naked eye for a record 18 months, twice as long as the previous record holder, the Great Comet of 1811.
Hale-Bopp was discovered on 23 July 1995 at a very large distance from the Sun, raising expectations that the comet could become very bright when it passed close to the Sun. Although comet brightnesses are very difficult to predict with any degree of accuracy, Hale-Bopp met or exceeded most predictions for its brightness when it passed perihelion on April 1 1997. The comet was dubbed the Great Comet of 1997.
The passage of Hale-Bopp was notable also for inciting a degree of panic about comets not seen for decades. Rumours that the comet was being followed by an alien spacecraft gained remarkable currency, and inspired a mass suicide among followers of a cult named Heaven’s Gate.

On April 1, the comet passed 137 km from the sun, once again, not a particularly close approach, but throughout this period Hale-Bopp still outshone every star except Sirius. This is a testament to the comet’s great brilliance. If Hale-Bopp had arrived four months sooner, it would have passed almost as near to us as Comet Hyakutake did last year—but Hale-Bopp probably would have been bright enough to cast shadows and be seen in full daylight.

SOHO

Comet SOHO and Nebulae in Orion


Credit and Copyright: M. Horn Explanation: Astrophotographer Michael Horn captured this gorgeous view of comet SOHO in the dark night sky above Wandibindle, Queensland, Australia on May 23rd. On this date, comet SOHO was moving against the background of the nebula-rich constellation of Orion. South is up in the picture which shows SOHO’s bright head or coma and long tail extending past the glowing gas clouds and dark dust lanes of the Flame and Horsehead nebulae. Alnitak, the bright star above and to the right of the cometary coma, is also known as Zeta Orionis, the eastern-most of the three stars in Orion’s belt. Southern Hemisphere observers report that comet SOHO has recently undergone a dramatic increase in brightness.

Comet – 2006 (see News Story from Lebanon dated Aug 14, 2006) in previous post

Comet McNaught, also known as the Great Comet of 2007 and given the designation C/2006 P1, is a non-periodic comet discovered on August 7, 2006 by British-Australian astronomer Robert H. McNaught. It was the brightest comet in over 40 years, and was easily visible to the naked eye for observers in the Southern Hemisphere in January and February 2007. With an estimated peak magnitude of -6.0, the comet was the second brightest since 1935. Around perihelion on January 12, it was visible worldwide in broad daylight. Its tail measured an estimated 35 degrees in length at its peak.

Image Taken 20/1/2007 Lawlers Gold Mine Western Australia

Image Taken 20/1/2007 Lawlers Gold Mine Western Australia

Comet – 1673

Comets were apparently flinging all over the place during this time. One of these tracts shows comets in 1680, 1682, 1683. Another shows five comets between 1664 and 1682. Another talks about comets of 1618. A tract entitled “The Signs of The Times” shows a bunch of prodigies that accompanied comets. Schechner writes:

All these outbursts were concerned with specific political quarrels. Some pamphleteers, however, raised themselves above the local rough water to examine a larger vista. They thought they saw a fast-approaching end to the world and their works adopted an apocalyptic tone. The comet of 1580 confirmed Francis Shakelton in his opinion that the Day of Judgment was near at hand…

Although Regiomontanus and others agreed that 1588 would be a year of great revolutions and world mutations, Jesus had yet to reappear when William Lilly viewed the comets of 1664 and 1665 and 1673 as tokens of the beginning of the end. In comets like that of 1680, E. Tonge, Christopher Ness, and others saw the great “northern star” the messianic herald of the last days predicted by the sybyl Tiburtina and Tycho Brahe.

Orion – M42; 1673

The Orion Nebula is the brightest and most conspicuous part of a much larger cloud of gas and dust which extends over 10 degrees well over half the constellation Orion. The linear extend of this giant cloud is well several hundreds of light-years. It can be visualized by long exposure photos (see e.g. Burnham) and contains, besides the Orion nebula near its center, the following objects, often famous on their own: Barnard’s Loop, the Horsehead Nebula region (also containing NGC 2024 = Orion B), and the reflection nebulae around M78. Already impressive in deep visible light photographs, the Orion Cloud is particularly gorgeous in the infrared light.

M42 itself is apparently a very turbulent cloud of gas and dust, full of interesting details, which Charles Robert O’Dell has compared to the rich topography of the Grand Canyon in his HST photo caption. The major features got names on their own by various observers: The dark nebula forming the lane separating M43 from the main nebula extends well into the latter, forming a feature generally nicknamed the “Fish’s Mouth”. The bright regions to both sides are called the “wings”, while at the end of the Fish’s Mouth there’s a cluster of newly formed stars, called the “Trapezium cluster”. The wing extension to the south on the east (lower left in our image) is called “The Sword”, the bright nebulosity below the Trapezium “The Thrust” and the fainter western (right) extension “The Sail”. Here we have a small collection of Images of detail in M42, including another nomenclature for the brightest region in the nebula by historic visual observers, as well as a pictorial study of the Trapezium cluster and region by Lowell Observatory images.

The Trapezium Cluster is among the very youngest (open) clusters known, with new stars still forming in this region. As stated above, the cluster was first depicted as triple star on February 4, 1617 by Galileo, who was not aware of the nebula. Galileo’s discovery did not get widely known, so that Christian Huygens independently rediscovered the triple star in 1656 together with the Orion Nebula. These first three stars are often labelled “A”, “C”, and “D”. It may be of interest that in both cases, the Trapezium, or Theta1 Orionis, was second to only one other double star: Mizar (Zeta Ursae Majoris). The fourth Trapezium star, “B”, was first found by Abbe Jean Picard in 1673 (according to De Mairan), and independently by Huygens in 1684. The fifth cluster star “E” was discovered by Friedrich Georg Wilhelm Struve in 1826 with a 9.5-inch refractor in Dorpat, the sixth, “F”, by John Herschel on February 13, 1830, the seventh, “G”, by Alvan Clark in 1888 when testing his 36-inch refractor of Lick Observatory, and the eighth, “H” by E.E. Barnard later in 1888 with the same telescope. Barnard later found that “H” is double, with two 16th-magnitude components. Today we know that stars “A” and “B” are both eclipsing variables of Algol type: A (also known as V1016 Ori) was discovered in 1975 to vary between magnitudes 6.73 and 7.53 with a period of 65.4325 days, while B (also cataloged as BM Ori) varies between mag 7.95 and 8.52 in 6.4705 days, and is always the faintest of the four Trapezium stars.

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Published in: on August 21, 2008 at 3:25 am  Leave a Comment  
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