BRIDGEPORT, WV (S-M) With all the attention being paid Comet Holmes, some astronomers may be forgetting that it is not the only comet in the sky.
Comet 8/P Tuttle is currently near the north celestial pole in Ursa Minor, and is visible all night for observers in the Northern Hemisphere.
"The comet is only about magnitude 13 right now, so you'll need a pretty large telescope to make it out," said Associate Editor Floyd Cummins. "We expect it to brighten to magnitude 10 by the end of the month. Then it should start to be visible in the smaller instruments. It's well worth keeping an eye on, because you just never know when a comet is going to undergo unexpected brightening."
Tuttle has an orbital period of just 4.3 years. "Watching Comet Tuttle is like a tradition for a lot of astronomers," said Senior Editor Glen Ward. "It's been seen at almost every return since its periodic nature was discovered in 1858. This is the most favorable return yet. The comet will pass about 23 million miles from Earth on January 2nd, which is a relatively close pass."
Comet Tuttle was discovered in 1790 by P. F. Mechain, but sketchy observations led to its being lost until being rediscovered by Horace Tuttle in 1858. It is thought to be the parent body of the Ursid meteor shower of December. - GW
Copyright 2007 Starry Mirror and Glen Ward
Online Astronomy Newspaper
All Original Content
COMET TUTTLE SEEN TO BE RETURNING - NOVEMBER 06
Comet 8/P Tuttle on November 06