WEATHER »

Westmont College

Westmont Telescope Captures Flaring Comet

Celestial Body Visible to Naked Eye; Telescope Viewing on Nov. 16


Westmont astronomers reported today that the campus’s Keck Telescope has captured images of a “rare celestial surprise” - the sudden brightening of Comet 17P/Holmes, near the constellation Perseus on the northeastern sky. In a statement from Westmont, physics professor Michael Sommermann noted that the comet had previously been faint but had only recently become roughly one million times brighter. “When looking at the comet’s coma, it’s larger now than any object in our solar system aside from the sun and easily visible to the naked eye,” Sommermann said in a written statement. Although scientists have not determined why the comet became brighter, educated guesses include the comet being struck by a meteor, a gas-filled cavity having ruptured, and the disintegration of the comet’s core.

Residents interested in seeing this celestial marvel can do so at the next public viewing on Friday, Nov. 16, at Westmont’s Carroll Observatory. Members of the Santa Barbara Astronomical Unit meet there every third Friday.

To submit a comment on this article, email letters@independent.com or visit our Facebook page. To submit information to a reporter, email tips@independent.com.



Be succinct, constructive, and relevant to the story. Leaving a comment means you agree to our Discussion Guidelines. We like civilized discourse. We don't like spam, lying, profanity, harassment or personal attacks.

comments powered by Disqus
event calendar sponsored by:

Goleta Target Store Confirmed

Set to open at Kmart location in 2019.

County Fire Chief Calls for More Fuel Breaks

Peterson wants to create a continuous front-country line from Montecito to Goleta.

Crime Rates Down, Youth Arrests Up in Santa Barbara County

A 'high percentage' of misdemeanor citations happen on school campuses.

Will Hollister Ranch Access Deal Hold Up Under Public Scrutiny?

State commissioners are taking a closer look at settlement over beach access to Santa Barbara County gated ...

Faced with a Gun, Sheriff’s Sergeant Holds His Fire

Sgt. Freddy Padilla reflects on potentially life-saving decisions during welfare call.