When we say Comet 17P/Holmes is "exploding," this is what we mean:
The gaseous cloud surrounding the comet's core more than doubled in radius on Oct. 25th. "I captured these images on consecutive nights using the same equipment (a 14-inch LX200 GPS) and similar exposure times (10x1s)," says photographer Eduardo Hernandez of Torreon, Mexico. This follows an even more astonishing million-fold increase in brightness on Oct. 23th.
What is happening to this comet? It remains a mystery.
It's a mystery you can behold with your naked eye. Step outside after sunset, face north, and look for the extra "star" in the thigh of Perseus: sky map. Comet Holmes is similar in brightness and appearance to the stars of the Big Dipper, very easy to see. If expansion of the spherical cloud continues, Holmes could soon become a naked eye disk rather than a dimensionless point of light. Stay tuned.
Look for it here:
Comet 17P/Holmes Photo Gallery
NASA Searches For A Snowball In Hell
The Comet and the Future of Science
The Comet Venus
Diamonds tell tale of comet that killed off the cavemen
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