Hartley comet visible on Oct 28

Hartley comet visible on Oct 28

 A file photo of the 103P/Hartley comet that will be visible at 4 am in Mysore on October 28.

Comet Hartley 2, officially designated 103P/Hartley is a small periodic comet with an orbital period of 6.46 years. It was discovered by Malcolm Hartley in 1986 at Schmidt Telescope Unit in Siding Spring, Australia.

There is a planned flyby of Hartley 2 by the Deep Impact spacecraft with a closest approach of 700 kilometers on November 4.

The comet will pass within 0.12 AU of the Earth on October 20  which is only eight days before coming to perihelion (closest approach to the Sun) on October 28.

The Deep Impact spacecraft, which studied periodic comet 9P/Tempel 1 in 2005, will examine 103P/Hartley during the period of September 5 to November 25, as part of the EPOXI (Extrasolar Planet Observation and Deep Impact Extended Investigation) mission.
The closest approach occurs on November 4, when the minimum distance to the comet will be only 620 miles (1000 kilometers). The spacecraft will use two telescopes with digital colour cameras and an infrared spectrometer.
The latter instrument will determine the chemical composition of outbursts of gas from the comet’s nucleus.
Since comet ‘Hartley’ is referred as ‘morning comet’, it is usually seen at around 4.10 am in the northeastern sky. But the best time to witness this periodic comet is around 4 am. The comet is visible from all parts of India.
The various astronomical devices used to witness this particular comet are Celstron Nexstar11 telescope, Meade F3.3 focal reducer, and Stellacam II video camera.
DH News Service