Look Up at Deep Impact on July 3
Comet Tempel 1 will
appear near the bright star Spica and Jupiter on July 3.
At about 7:52 p.m. HST on July 3, Comet Tempel 1 will collide with the
impactor from the Deep Impact spacecraft. Hawaii is one of the few
parts of the world where it may be possible to view this event as it happens.
The pre-encounter comet (about ninth magnitude) will be too faint to see
without a telescope or really good binoculars, but it will be near two
bright objects, the star Spica and Jupiter. You may find them by looking
overhead and slightly to the southwest. (See
complete finder chart.) For the
best viewing, go to a dark site away from city lights.
This is an experiment, so no one knows exactly what will happen. The
best guess is that at impact, there may be a bright flash of light that
will look like a new bright star. You should be able to see it with the
naked eye. After impact, the debris will gradually spread out and add to
the comet's tail. It should be interesting to watch this change take
place over the next night if you are away from the city lights or have
binoculars or a small telescope.
If you don't want to comet-gaze on your own, or if sea-level skies
are overcast, you may want to participate in the following activities
(free unless noted) organized by the IfA, the Bishop Museum, NASA, and
other groups (subject to change):
On Oahu: Bishop Museum's Comet Collision Countdown, 5:30-10
p.m. ($3 admission) Planetarium shows, activities for the family, NASA-TV,
stargazing on the lawn with the Hawaiian Astronomical Society, and lectures
by IfA astronomers. Contact: Carolyn Kaichi at 847-8203.
Sunset on the
Beach, Waikiki. Before the movie, The Dish, which will start at 8:00 p.m.,
IfA astronomer Jonathan Williams will give a brief overview of Deep Impact
with images of comet projected on screen and the feed from the NASA Web
site. Contact: Mona Wood, 218-5546
On Hawaii: UH Hilo University Classroom Building, room 100, 6:30-8:30
p.m. Presentations and a discussion panel with astronomers from IfA and
NASA, viewing of images of the comet from a telescope on Mauna Kea and
the Faulkes Telescope on Maui, videoconference with astronomers observing
the event on Mauna Kea. Contact: Gary Fujihara, 932-2328.
Visitor Information Station, Mauna Kea. Telescopes for public viewing.
Contact: David Byrne, 961-2180.
Real-time observing on the Keck telescopes at Hualalai Lecture Theater,
Waimea, 7-10 p.m. Contact: Laura Kraft, 885-7887.
On Maui: Maui Community College Auditorium, 6:30-8:30 p.m. Activities
similar to those in Hilo, viewing through small telescopes on the grounds
of MCC. Contact: Gary Fujihara (Hilo), 932-2328.
NASA Web pages: deepimpact.jpl.nasa.gov/ and www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/deepimpact/main/index.html
For information about activities in Hawaii: www.astroday.net/DeepImpactHawaii.html