December 9, 2012 – The Truth about Comet Elenin: Often, comets are portrayed as indications of gloom and doom in movies and on television, but most pose no threat to Earth. Comet Elenin, the latest comet to visit our inner solar system, is no exception. Elenin passed within 22 million miles (35 million kilometers) of Earth, during its closest approach on Oct. 16, 2011 (see Inner Solar System map, above).
Comet Elenin is also known by its astronomical name “C/2010 X1.” The comet was first detected on Dec. 10, 2010 by Leonid Elenin, an astronomer in Russia. At that time, Elenin was about 401 million miles (647 million kilometers) from Earth. Since its discovery, Comet Elenin has – as all comets do – closed the distance to Earth’s vicinity as it makes its way closer to perihelion, its closest point to the sun.
The Moon’s average distance from the Earth is 239,000 miles. Comet Elenin will not come closer to Earth than 22 million miles, which is 92 times the distance from the earth to the moon. The closest Venus ever gets to Earth is 24 million miles. In other words, Comet Elenin will be a vast disaster from Earth.
Comet Elenin is 2.5 miles wide and made of ice and dirt. Because its size is so small, and it will be so far away, this Comet CANNOT cause shifting of the tides or even the tectonic plates on Earth. In other words, there is absolutely NO risk of earthquakes, volcanoes and/or floods because of Comet Elenin.
There have been incorrect speculations that alignments of comet Elenin with other celestial bodies could cause consequences for Earth, and external forces could cause the comet to come closer to Earth. This is completely FALSE. The orbit of the comet is well known, and it will not encounter any dark bodies that could perturb its orbit, nor will it influence us in any way here on Earth.
Additionally, the comet will not block out the Sun. The Moon is 2,500 miles wide and Comet Elenin is 2.5 miles wide. The Sun is 865,000 miles wide. How could such a small object block the sun, which is such a large object? For a comet, the size of Elenin, to be able to block out the Sun, it would have to pass within 250 miles of the Earth. This comet will come no closer to Earth than 22 million miles.
The “brown dwarf theory” about Comet Elenin is, also, NOT true. A brown dwarf is a star that gives off very little light. Brown dwarf’s will be the subject of tomorrows post.
Further, you won’t be able to see Comet Elenin without a good pair of binoculars, clear skies and a dark, secluded location. It is simply too small and will not come that close to Earth.
Lastly, Comet Elenin hasn’t received much press precisely because it is small and faint. Several new comets are discovered each year, and you don’t normally hear about them either. Comet Elenin has nothing to do with the supposed Mayan Calendar end date, which is another myth I’ll cover in subsequent posts. (Note: First posted Sep. 1, 2011).
The Master of Disaster