Sep 15, 2009 | 6
The middle of the 20th century was an eventful time in terms of Earth's geopolitics. In the spring of 1949, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was taking shape, and simmering tensions in Korea hinted at the war that would begin there the following year. Twelve years later, in the summer of 1961, President John F. Kennedy was in his first year of office and had already committed the U.S. to reaching the moon before the decade was out.
A few hundred million miles away, during that same interval of years, Jupiter had its own share of the action. The gas giant passed the time by borrowing a comet called 147P/Kushida-Muramatsu to form a temporary satellite, holding onto it for two orbits. That's the conclusion, anyway, of a study presented yesterday (pdf) at the European Planetary Science Congress in Potsdam, Germany, by a team of researchers from Japan and the U.K.
Feb 6, 2009
Here in New York City, where Scientific American is based, we don't often get to enjoy the pleasures of stargazing. The moon is a reliable sight, as are many of the closer stars, but relatively faint objects like Comet Lulin, making what's believed to be its maiden voyage past Earth, are usually drowned out by light pollution. In more astronomy-friendly (read: darker) corners of the globe, however, Lulin is already being spotted, more than two weeks before it ventures closest to our planet on February 24.
Amateur and professional astronomers alike have managed to catch the comet on camera—a collection of their links appears below. If you capture a good image of Lulin yourself, let us know by commenting on this blog post with a link, or get in touch via Twitter at http://twitter.com/sciam. We'll update this post as the links come in. Happy hunting!
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