Comet Honda is zipping past the Earth during the middle of August while at the same time, Comet Elenin appears on a bee line to nearly intersect with the orbit of Comet Honda on September 28,29. Given the current NASA JPL coordinates and orbital information, we’ll all live to see another day… but lets imagine for a moment what would happen if Elenin’s orbital elements were ‘off’ just enough to intersect with Comet Honda, or ‘what if’ Elenin’s course were to change after plowing through the debris field of Honda – prior to it’s encounter with intersecting Earth’s orbit on or about November 2.
Some folks don’t like ‘what-if’ scenarios, especially when they have to do with very low odds of occurring. On the other hand, if you’ve ever hit a few balls around on a pool table, you know how an expected result can be quickly altered by a simple and light touch of one ball against another. Game over.
In the realm of interplanetary space, the effects of gravity as well as other visible and invisible forces, play predominant rolls in what comes our way. Lets hope that the forces in this case are far too weak to alter the current orbital predictions.
About Comet Elenin
Discovered in December, 2010
Official Name: C/2010 X1
Coma Diameter: Estimated August, 2011 to be 200,000 km (124,000 miles), so far
Orbit: Estimated to be 600,000 years
Traveling apprx. 85,000 km/hr (53,000 miles per hour)
About Comet Honda
Discovered in 1948
Official Name: 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova
Coma Diameter: 69,000 km (43,000 miles)
Orbit: 5.25 years
A bit of good news is that apparently when looking at a 3D view of Comet Elenin’s orbit, while it will intersect 2-dimensionally with Earth, it will pass ‘above’ the planet by an apparent safe distance. All bets are off though if this thing is jostled.
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