Readers!
 

Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar below. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.


 

Regular readers can support Behind The Black with a contribution via paypal:
 


 

Or with a subscription with regular donations from your Paypal or credit card account:


 

If Paypal doesn't work for you, you can support Behind The Black directly by sending your donation by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman, to
 

Behind The Black
c/o Robert Zimmerman
P.O.Box 1262
Cortaro, AZ 85652


Observations of Comet Hale-Bopp at 30 AU

In a paper published tonight on the Los Alamos astro-ph preprint website, astronomers described new observations of Comet Hale-Bopp at a distance of 30 astronomical units, or 2.8 billion miles, from the sun. Their conclusions:

  • These observations were the most distant detection of any known comet.
  • The comet’s starlike appearance and its drop in brightness since the last observations suggest that the comet has finally ceased, or is about to cease, all activity, and that they are now looking directly at the comet’s nucleus instead of the coma cloud surrounding it.
  • Nonetheless, the comet is brighter than expected, which also suggests that a thin layer of new ice covers its surface and thus increases its albedo.

To quote the paper, “Observing Hale-Bopp in a completely frozen state would be extremely important because a thick coma was constantly present during the entire appariation [Ed. the fly-by of the Sun]. The coma obscured the nucleus which was not observed directly. Lack photometric data of the bared nucleus, its size — one of the most important input parameter in activity models — remains uncertain.”

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

 
Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

Readers: the rules for commenting!

 

No registration is required. I welcome all opinions, even those that strongly criticize my commentary.

 

However, name-calling and obscenities will not be tolerated. First time offenders who are new to the site will be warned. Second time offenders or first time offenders who have been here awhile will be suspended for a week. After that, I will ban you. Period.

 

Note also that first time commenters as well as any comment with more than one link will be placed in moderation for my approval. Be patient, I will get to it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *