April’s Fools Day 2017 came with more than just jokes and jest. April 1st also marked the latest passing by of comet 41P or Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresak. It also marked the comet’s closest perihelion as this came within less than 13 million miles from Earth.
Comet 41P was first discovered some 100 years ago. However, at the time, scientists knew little to nothing about it. They did determine the fact that this was a sun-orbiting or periodic such space body. At the time, they were unsure of its orbit period, and the comet was actually lost from sight for a few years.
Its three names belong to the researchers that first sighted it, rediscovered the space body, and the one to link its various other sightings. These are, in order, Horace Tuttle, Michael Giacobini, and L’ubor Kresak.
On April 01st, comet 41P came closer to Earth than in any other of its known passing-bys. Also, astronomers predict that such a close encounter will probably only repeat in about 50 years. Or even some 100 years.
Comet 41P Passed By Less Than 12.3 Million Miles Away From Earth And Offered Interesting New Details
NASA scientists have managed to establish the following details about comet 41P. This passes by Earth every 5.4 years. Also, it is part of the Jupiter family of comets. Named the April’s Fool’s Day comet for this year’s occasion, it offered scientists the occasion to fill in the following details. They were able to further study its composition, nucleus, and coma.
“Each comet that comes into the neighborhood of Earth gives us a chance to add to our understanding of the events that led to the formation of our own planet.”
This is according to Michael DiSanti from NASA’s Greenbelt, Maryland Goddard Space Flight Center and one of the researchers studying the comet.
Image Source: Wikimedia