Monday, December 10, 2007

New Comet? Or is it Comet Holmes outbursting ahead of schedule?

UPDATE #2: It's not a comet, it's a fuel dump from a classified rocket launch.

On the CCD mailing list:

I just went outside and there is at least a mag 2 comet visible at the zenith. I don’t think this is Holmes….Get outside now!!!

Jon Talbot

Is it Comet Holmes outbursting short of 60 days later?

UPDATE: On the AAVSO mailing list, someone pins it down to Lacerta, and probably gets it right (satellite fuel dump):

I just went out at 00:00UT on Dec 11 UT. I looked up and in Lacerta directly between Cygnus and Cas was a large, bright diffuse object, looking similar to a comet. I'm talking bigger than Comet Holmes and probably 2nd mag. I got my 10X50 binocs and checked it out. It is slowly moving past the stars to the NE. It has a bright pin-like jet toward the NW, which can be seen unaided eye. The only thing I can figure out is that this was ejected from a satellite/rocket as some upper atmosheric experiment. It was out there as of 5 miutes ago. Anyone see it??? Any ideas on what it is???

Chris Stephan SET
Robert Clyde Observatory
184 Orday Rd.
Sebring, FL. 33875


-john- said...

I was incredible, think this may be it:

Cape Canaveral, Fla., (Dec. 10, 2007) - A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket successfully launched a National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) payload at 5:05 p.m., EST, today from Space Launch Complex 41. This launch marks the fourth Atlas V EELV mission this year and the 12th ULA mission in 2007. ( )

Dean W. Armstrong said...

Yeah, the original poster said he couldn't keep track of it because of clouds, and when he came back a few hours later it was gone. Dave Lane and some other RASC observers reported the fuel dump and were watching for it.