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Re: Lovejoy a Great Comet?

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  • jbortle@aol.com
    It is always interesting to mull over the question of whether or not this, or that, comet is indeed a Great Comet . The actual justification for assigning the
    Message 1 of 6 , Jan 18, 2012
      It is always interesting to mull over the question of whether or not this, or that, comet is indeed a 'Great Comet'. The actual justification for assigning the title is rather more ambiguous than most think, as the meaning of this appellation is less well defined than most believe.

      Although most often used to designate some truly extraordinary, brilliant, long-tailed comet, prior to about 1850 the name was occasionally applied simply to some moderately bright comet that happened to appear in a given year. In other instances some truly outstanding objects were initially widely known by the name of their discoverer, only gaining the prefix 'Great Comet' after their apparition ended. The name has also often been affixed to bright comets that have appeared suddenly out of the twilight and were spotted by so many that no specific first discoverer(s) could be determined and it was easier to do so.

      However, the more accepted modern interpretation seems mainly to center around comets of extreme brilliance and possessing long bright tails. Even so, any critical determination is still dubious enough that various authors can differ in their lists of 20th/21st century examples and particularly in their pecking order.

      From my own viewpoint I regard Comet Lovejoy as probably making the 'Great Comet' cut, but only just barely. I would tend to group it along with the Great Southern Comets of 1880 and 1887 as a marginal member of the clan. The two earlier comets gained the title mostly by virtue of their impressive tails and sudden appearance, as their heads were never seen as very bright in a reasonably dark sky (the 1887 object even lacked any head!). In fact, these three objects are likely the 'faintest' in terms of coma brightness among all of the Great Comets in history.

      J.Bortle
    • P. Clay Sherrod
      Honestly.....with the dearth of really spectacular comets of late, and by comparison, this comet certainly ranks in the top dozen of Great Comets. This (an
      Message 2 of 6 , Jan 18, 2012
        Honestly.....with the dearth of really spectacular comets of late, and by comparison,
        this comet certainly ranks in the top dozen of "Great Comets."
        This (an arbitrary unilaterally described "Great Comet") is not a selection of
        scientific merit.....it is a selection of the impact of the sight of the comet on the
        human psyche.

        Comet Lovejoy is/was a Great Comet.

        The only thing not so Great about it was the fact that it graced southern hemisphere
        skies and left all of us north of the Yucatan out of the fun.

        Clay
        _____
        Dr. P. Clay Sherrod
        Arkansas Sky Observatories
        MPC H45 - Petit Jean Mountain South
        MPC H41 - Petit Jean Mountain
        MPC H43 - Conway West
        http://www.arksky.org/



        ----- Original Message -----
        From: <jbortle@...>
        To: <comets-ml@yahoogroups.com>
        Sent: Wednesday, January 18, 2012 12:59 PM
        Subject: [comets-ml] Re: Lovejoy a Great Comet?


        > It is always interesting to mull over the question of whether or not this, or that,
        > comet is indeed a 'Great Comet'. The actual justification for assigning the title
        > is rather more ambiguous than most think, as the meaning of this appellation is
        > less well defined than most believe.
        >
        > Although most often used to designate some truly extraordinary, brilliant,
        > long-tailed comet, prior to about 1850 the name was occasionally applied simply to
        > some moderately bright comet that happened to appear in a given year. In other
        > instances some truly outstanding objects were initially widely known by the name of
        > their discoverer, only gaining the prefix 'Great Comet' after their apparition
        > ended. The name has also often been affixed to bright comets that have appeared
        > suddenly out of the twilight and were spotted by so many that no specific first
        > discoverer(s) could be determined and it was easier to do so.
        >
        > However, the more accepted modern interpretation seems mainly to center around
        > comets of extreme brilliance and possessing long bright tails. Even so, any
        > critical determination is still dubious enough that various authors can differ in
        > their lists of 20th/21st century examples and particularly in their pecking order.
        >
        > From my own viewpoint I regard Comet Lovejoy as probably making the 'Great Comet'
        > cut, but only just barely. I would tend to group it along with the Great Southern
        > Comets of 1880 and 1887 as a marginal member of the clan. The two earlier comets
        > gained the title mostly by virtue of their impressive tails and sudden appearance,
        > as their heads were never seen as very bright in a reasonably dark sky (the 1887
        > object even lacked any head!). In fact, these three objects are likely the
        > 'faintest' in terms of coma brightness among all of the Great Comets in history.
        >
        > J.Bortle
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > ------------------------------------
        >
        > Comet Observations List: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CometObs/
        > Comet Images List: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Comet-Images/
        >
        > NOTICE: Material quoted or re-posted from the Comets Mailing List should be
        > indicated by:
        >
        > Comets Mailing List [date]
        > http://www.yahoogroups.com/group/comets-ml
        > Yahoo! Groups Links
        >
        >
        >
        >
      • tricks46
        Yep. It ought to be a great comet just because of the great job it did of breaking the rules. Mike H.
        Message 3 of 6 , Jan 18, 2012
          Yep. It ought to be a great comet just because of the great job it did of breaking the rules.
          Mike H.



          --- In comets-ml@yahoogroups.com, "P. Clay Sherrod" <drclay@...> wrote:
          >
          > Honestly.....with the dearth of really spectacular comets of late, and by comparison,
          > this comet certainly ranks in the top dozen of "Great Comets."
          > This (an arbitrary unilaterally described "Great Comet") is not a selection of
          > scientific merit.....it is a selection of the impact of the sight of the comet on the
          > human psyche.
          >
          > Comet Lovejoy is/was a Great Comet.
          >
          > The only thing not so Great about it was the fact that it graced southern hemisphere
          > skies and left all of us north of the Yucatan out of the fun.
          >
          > Clay
          > _____
          > Dr. P. Clay Sherrod
          > Arkansas Sky Observatories
          > MPC H45 - Petit Jean Mountain South
          > MPC H41 - Petit Jean Mountain
          > MPC H43 - Conway West
          > http://www.arksky.org/
          >
          >
          >
          > ----- Original Message -----
          > From: <jbortle@...>
          > To: <comets-ml@yahoogroups.com>
          > Sent: Wednesday, January 18, 2012 12:59 PM
          > Subject: [comets-ml] Re: Lovejoy a Great Comet?
          >
          >
          > > It is always interesting to mull over the question of whether or not this, or that,
          > > comet is indeed a 'Great Comet'. The actual justification for assigning the title
          > > is rather more ambiguous than most think, as the meaning of this appellation is
          > > less well defined than most believe.
          > >
          > > Although most often used to designate some truly extraordinary, brilliant,
          > > long-tailed comet, prior to about 1850 the name was occasionally applied simply to
          > > some moderately bright comet that happened to appear in a given year. In other
          > > instances some truly outstanding objects were initially widely known by the name of
          > > their discoverer, only gaining the prefix 'Great Comet' after their apparition
          > > ended. The name has also often been affixed to bright comets that have appeared
          > > suddenly out of the twilight and were spotted by so many that no specific first
          > > discoverer(s) could be determined and it was easier to do so.
          > >
          > > However, the more accepted modern interpretation seems mainly to center around
          > > comets of extreme brilliance and possessing long bright tails. Even so, any
          > > critical determination is still dubious enough that various authors can differ in
          > > their lists of 20th/21st century examples and particularly in their pecking order.
          > >
          > > From my own viewpoint I regard Comet Lovejoy as probably making the 'Great Comet'
          > > cut, but only just barely. I would tend to group it along with the Great Southern
          > > Comets of 1880 and 1887 as a marginal member of the clan. The two earlier comets
          > > gained the title mostly by virtue of their impressive tails and sudden appearance,
          > > as their heads were never seen as very bright in a reasonably dark sky (the 1887
          > > object even lacked any head!). In fact, these three objects are likely the
          > > 'faintest' in terms of coma brightness among all of the Great Comets in history.
          > >
          > > J.Bortle
          > >
          > >
          > >
          > >
          > >
          > >
          > >
          > > ------------------------------------
          > >
          > > Comet Observations List: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CometObs/
          > > Comet Images List: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Comet-Images/
          > >
          > > NOTICE: Material quoted or re-posted from the Comets Mailing List should be
          > > indicated by:
          > >
          > > Comets Mailing List [date]
          > > http://www.yahoogroups.com/group/comets-ml
          > > Yahoo! Groups Links
          > >
          > >
          > >
          > >
          >
        • David Seargent
          I have no doubt that Lovejoy will go down in history as a Great Comet, but we still must put things into their right perspective. Together with the Great
          Message 4 of 6 , Jan 18, 2012
            I have no doubt that Lovejoy will go down in history as a Great Comet, but we still must put things into their right perspective. Together with the Great Comets of 1880 and 1887, this was one of the intrinsically faintest of the major sungrazers and, like them, achieved "Greatness" principally because of very good observing geometry and the fact that all three passed on the "Earth side" of the Sun. I cannot agree with some statements (not on this list) that Lovejoy was probably not much smaller than Ikeya-Seki. I-S passed on the far side of the Sun (except for a brief period only hours before perihelion) and was seen more head on and relatively distant. Lovejoy, on the other hand, was viewed more or less "broadside" and passed closer to Earth than any other sungrazer - just about as close as a Kreutz can come. If the circumstances of the two were swapped, Lovejoy would have been close to the naked-eye limit at the end of October 1965 when Ikeya-Seki was at its most spectacular. Conversely, had Ikeya-Seki been the comet that passed perihelion last December, it would have shone at around mag 0 or -1 on Christmas morning and would still be visible naked eye with possibly 60 degrees of tail. This is not said to detract in any way from the spectacle of Comet Lovejoy. As observed under the circumstances that actually prevailed and not these hypothetical ones, the apparent difference between these two was much less than their intrinsic difference might imply.
            Regards,
            David



            To: comets-ml@yahoogroups.com
            From: tricks46@...
            Date: Wed, 18 Jan 2012 21:59:02 +0000
            Subject: [comets-ml] Re: Lovejoy a Great Comet?






            Yep. It ought to be a great comet just because of the great job it did of breaking the rules.
            Mike H.

            --- In comets-ml@yahoogroups.com, "P. Clay Sherrod" <drclay@...> wrote:
            >
            > Honestly.....with the dearth of really spectacular comets of late, and by comparison,
            > this comet certainly ranks in the top dozen of "Great Comets."
            > This (an arbitrary unilaterally described "Great Comet") is not a selection of
            > scientific merit.....it is a selection of the impact of the sight of the comet on the
            > human psyche.
            >
            > Comet Lovejoy is/was a Great Comet.
            >
            > The only thing not so Great about it was the fact that it graced southern hemisphere
            > skies and left all of us north of the Yucatan out of the fun.
            >
            > Clay
            > _____
            > Dr. P. Clay Sherrod
            > Arkansas Sky Observatories
            > MPC H45 - Petit Jean Mountain South
            > MPC H41 - Petit Jean Mountain
            > MPC H43 - Conway West
            > http://www.arksky.org/
            >
            >
            >
            > ----- Original Message -----
            > From: <jbortle@...>
            > To: <comets-ml@yahoogroups.com>
            > Sent: Wednesday, January 18, 2012 12:59 PM
            > Subject: [comets-ml] Re: Lovejoy a Great Comet?
            >
            >
            > > It is always interesting to mull over the question of whether or not this, or that,
            > > comet is indeed a 'Great Comet'. The actual justification for assigning the title
            > > is rather more ambiguous than most think, as the meaning of this appellation is
            > > less well defined than most believe.
            > >
            > > Although most often used to designate some truly extraordinary, brilliant,
            > > long-tailed comet, prior to about 1850 the name was occasionally applied simply to
            > > some moderately bright comet that happened to appear in a given year. In other
            > > instances some truly outstanding objects were initially widely known by the name of
            > > their discoverer, only gaining the prefix 'Great Comet' after their apparition
            > > ended. The name has also often been affixed to bright comets that have appeared
            > > suddenly out of the twilight and were spotted by so many that no specific first
            > > discoverer(s) could be determined and it was easier to do so.
            > >
            > > However, the more accepted modern interpretation seems mainly to center around
            > > comets of extreme brilliance and possessing long bright tails. Even so, any
            > > critical determination is still dubious enough that various authors can differ in
            > > their lists of 20th/21st century examples and particularly in their pecking order.
            > >
            > > From my own viewpoint I regard Comet Lovejoy as probably making the 'Great Comet'
            > > cut, but only just barely. I would tend to group it along with the Great Southern
            > > Comets of 1880 and 1887 as a marginal member of the clan. The two earlier comets
            > > gained the title mostly by virtue of their impressive tails and sudden appearance,
            > > as their heads were never seen as very bright in a reasonably dark sky (the 1887
            > > object even lacked any head!). In fact, these three objects are likely the
            > > 'faintest' in terms of coma brightness among all of the Great Comets in history.
            > >
            > > J.Bortle
            > >
            > >
            > >
            > >
            > >
            > >
            > >
            > > ------------------------------------
            > >
            > > Comet Observations List: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CometObs/
            > > Comet Images List: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Comet-Images/
            > >
            > > NOTICE: Material quoted or re-posted from the Comets Mailing List should be
            > > indicated by:
            > >
            > > Comets Mailing List [date]
            > > http://www.yahoogroups.com/group/comets-ml
            > > Yahoo! Groups Links
            > >
            > >
            > >
            > >
            >






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