• Mark Alan Lovewell

Sputtering Comets

The skies this spring have been full of the mystery of fast moving comets. Astronomers have a fairly easy time predicting a comet’s movement through the constellations but rarely can they predict brightness. So far the two that are being watched have not been viewable without an optical aid.

Comet Atlas drew plenty of attention early this year. After it was spotted, astronomers tried to predict its future brightness. Many estimates put the comet bright enough to match brilliant comets of the past. But speeding towards the sun early in April, the comet literally fell apart. The comet which is still expected to be closest to the Earth on May 23 and closest to the Sun at the end of this month has basically almost faded away.
Comet Sway, another comet now in our southern skies, has astronomers excited too. They’ve been watching it since March from the southern hemisphere.

It has now moved far enough north for us to see it. The comet is barely visible with binoculars two hours before sunrise. But you’ll need a star chart to find it tomorrow morning in the zodiacal constellation Aries. The comet moves through the constellation Triangulum this weekend.

Sunrise and Sunset
Day Sunrise Sunset
Fri., May 15 5:22 7:54
Sat., May 16 5:21 7:55
Sun., May 17 5:20 7:56
Mon., May 18 5:19 7:56
Tues., May 19 5:18 7:57
Wed., May 20 5:17 7:58
Thurs., May 21 5:16 7:59
Fri., May 22 5:16 8:00

Temperatures and Precipitations
Day Max (Fº) Min (Fº) Inches
May 8 59 46 T
May 9 58 38 0.25
May 10 50 36 0.00
May 11 55 44 0.00
May 12 60 42 0.12
May 13 59 39 0.00
May 14 61 35 0.00

 

Water temperature in Edgartown harbor: 53º F

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