Department of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering in the College of Engineering at the University of Michigan


Professor Michael Combi discusses comets with Detroit News

Posted: March 12, 2013

Professor Michael Combi discusses comets with Detroit News

Over the past few days, astronomy enthusiasts have been hoping to catch a glimpse of the PAN-STARRS comet. The excitement led the Detroit News to contact Professor Michael Combi on what to expect.

Comets are large masses of ice. Their tails become longer and brighter as they come closer to the sun. Pan-STARRS is an acronym for the Hawaiian telescope that spotted the comet in 2011. The comet is predicted to be 28 million miles away from the sun.

"Projecting what it's going to do when it gets close to the sun is very difficult," Combi told the Detroit News. "We don't have that many comets every year that are this bright, so it's always interesting," Combi added.

The Detroit News urged stargazers to use binoculars and look toward the western sky at dusk to catch a glimpse of the comet this week. There may also be another chance to see a comet later this year. The ISON comet is predicted to be visible to the naked eye on Thanksgiving Day 2013.

In other comet news, the Rosetta mission plans to land a probe on Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko in late 2014. Combi spoke with EarthSky and MConnex about the mission.

“The goal is to understand the role that comets have in being the first objects that formed in the early outer solar system. So, we’re actually seeing what the solar system is made of,” Combi told EarthSky.

To hear the full interview with EarthSky, click here.
To watch the MConnex video, click here.
To read the Detroit News article, click here.

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