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Rare opportunity to see Comet Holmes

October 30, 2007 16:02 IST
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Look north after sunset and there is a rare opportunity to see a celestial body as big as the largest planet, Jupiter with the naked eyes.

Comet Holmes, seen after a gap of 115 years, will be an experience of lifetime for the sky observers who can enjoy its magnificent view.

The comet, generally having a faint appearance, now has brightened to nearly 400,000 times and magnitude of brightness has gone from 17 to 2.8 (the lesser the value the clearer the object) over the last few days.

It now appeared as the third brightest star the constellation of Perseus.

"The comet's brightness has increased a million fold in a week's time. You can watch it easily as a bright yellow star in northeast sky after sunset over the capital," president of

Science Popularisation Association of Communication And Education (SPACE), Chander Bhushan Devgun told PTI.

As comet nears the sun, it developed a diaphanous (translucent) and spherical cloud that makes it look even bigger than Jupiter.

"The comet will remain bright for some more days before it begins to move away from the Sun," Devgun said.

This is the second time Holmes has erupted like this, the first was in 1892, when it was discovered by a British astronomer Edwin Holmes, after whom the comet is named.

There is evidence that some comets and asteroids may have a porous internal structure like honeycomb and if one of the chambers suddenly collapse, it expose many square kilometres of fresh cometary ice to the sunlight making it very bright.

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