Watch LIVE: One night, two comets!
Two comets will be in the same part of the sky this evening -- only one-and-a-half moon widths apart as viewed from Earth.
An internet telescope organization called "SLOOH" -- with telescopes in the Canary Islands, Chile, and Australia -- is providing its live feed to us so you can watch it live here on ClickOnDetroit.com!
Normally, only paying members get to see cool stuff like this on the SLOOH website. But we asked, and they let us join in on their live feed.
The first comet is called "168P/Hergenrother", which was originally discovered by Carl W. Hergenrother on Nov. 22, 1998. As a periodic comet, it orbits our sun once every seven years. It last reached perihelion (its closest approach to the Sun) on Oct.1, 2012.
This is the brighter of the two comets, and it has undergone a number of sudden, bright outbursts over the past several weeks, which suggests to some that its nucleus may be about to break apart.
The second comet is called "C/2012 J1 (Catalina)", and it has shown much more stable behavior in recent weeks.
2/2012 J1 was discovered by A. R. Gibbs of the Catalina Sky Survey on May 13th, 2012. The Catalina Sky Survey is a prolific comet discoverer as it searches for near-Earth objects, such as comets and asteroids, as part of its government mandate to provide advance notice should one of these objects be discovered on a collision course with our planet. Classified as a “hyperbolic comet”, C/2012 J1 won’t return to the inner solar system within the next 200-years. It will continue to brighten as it reaches perihelion on Dec. 7, 2012.
Both comets reportedly have small tails, and nice comas -- that's the gassy ball that surrounds the comet's nucleus.
This is a photo of 168P/Hergenrother, which was taken through the SLOOH telescope this past Sunday.