Re: C/2011 W3 Lovejoy thsi morning!
- --- In firstname.lastname@example.org, David Seargent <seargent@...> wrote:
>David is absolutely correct. I anticipate that the spectacle is only likely to grow better with time as the tail moves out of the morning twilight. Keep in mind that the brightness of a sungrazer's dust tail seems to fade much more slowly than does that of the coma, following closer to a rate dictated by the inverse square law. Likewise, Comet Lovejoy's tail is more-or-less still approaching Earth as the comet retreats from the Sun, slowing the fading process even further.
>...The sight [of Ikeya-Seki] was magnificent. In the dark sky, the coma appeared brighter than the earlier twilight views and looked small and dense. As for the tail, this appeared (as John Bortle has written on several occasions to this group) "solid", not diaphanous like the tail of a normal comet. And there was little "normal" about Ikeya-Seki! Today, we would probably think of laser beams or Star-Wars light sabres ... but this was back in 1965!!
> Now, I am certainly not saying that W3 will become as remotely spectacular as I-S, but the lessons of 1965 are worth noting. The comet may become faint, but the tail may well retain relatively high surface brightness for quite some time and be impressive in coming days as it pulls out from the twilight (and moonlight). Don't dismiss this comet just yet! There may still be surprises in store.
Go back and consult some of my earlier posts concerning the development of Comet Ikeya-Seki's post-T dust tail. Such may well foreshadow the sort of evolutionary path that the tail of Comet Lovejoy may see in days to come on a somewhat more modest scale.
Folks, be assured that the show isn't over yet by any means.