Some facts and figures about Comet Elenin

Some facts and figures about Comet Elenin

2010 X1 (Elenin) is apparently disintegrating. It faded dramatically after a solar flare on August 20. Images at the end of August revealed a spreading, more diffuse coma. It will likely continue to fade and become more diffuse in the opening days of the month. It predicts considerable confusion in the coming months as most software will continue to report the pre-disintegration magnitude data. (CometChasing) September 23 is the date that Elenin will show on SOHO images.

The inclination is only 1.839°, which means the orbit of Elenin is nearly coincident with the ecliptic plane. Therefore, Sun, Earth, and Elenin can be aligned in a nearly straight line.
• The perihelion is on Sep 10, 2011 at 0.48 AU from Sun. (1 AU is approx. the mean EarthSun distance)
• The eccentricity was larger than 1 when entering inner solar system. In other words, Elenin was not a periodic comet at first.
• Elenin was hit by CME in mid-August. Some astronomers believe it’s disintegrating, which is quite common among comets. However, Elenin is still visible in early September. We need to wait until Sep 23 to find out with SOHO image.

Possible link beetween Elenin and earthquakes?!

Last tree alightment between Sun, Elenin and Earth happen on the same days of major earthquake struck Chile, ChristChurch and Tohoku.

February 27,2010 there was alightment Elenin-Earth-Sun (7.5°) and Elenin was 7.03 AU from Sun. It was the day that 8.8 magnitude earthquake hits Chile.

September 4, 2010 there was alightment Elenion-Sun-Earth (~180°) and Elenin was 5.25 AU from Sun. It was the day that 7.0 magnitude earthquake hits ChristChurch, New Zealand.

March 11, 2011 there was alightment Elenin-Earth-Sun (6.4°) and Elenin was 3.14 AU from Sun. It was the day of Great Tohoku earthquake, magnitude 9.1 in Japan.

During the next two alignments in Sep and Nov 2011, Elenin will be much closer to the Sun! Moreover, the Earth-Sun-Elenin angle will be smaller.

September 26-28, 2011 there will be alightment Sun-Elenin-Earth ( 5.5°) and Elenin will be very close to Sun, 0.61 AU. It is the date that some predicts the tree days of darkness because Elenin's tail could blocked the Sun for tree days.

A popular and plausible hypothesis is : “Elenin interacts with Sun. It’s observed that comets induce solar activity such as CME and solar flares. Powerful solar activities may trigger earthquakes then.”
• But no peer-reviewed paper elaborating this theory persuasively
• So Elenin’s correlation with mega quakes could still be a BIG coincidence!
• If Elenin doesn’t disintegrate, we shall know the answer by the end of September

C/2010 X1 (Elenin): A southern hemisphere evening comet visible in very large telescopes
This comet is apparently disintegrating.It is moving closer to the Sun and the moon is starting to interfere. The opening days of the month may be the last days for observing this comet.

As of September 1 it is in Virgo at magnitude 9.4. Look for a 3' coma.   FINDER CHART

LatitudeVisibility September 3Visibility September 10Visibility September 17Visibility September 24Visibility October 1Nights Visible
55o NNot visibleNot visibleNot visibleNot visibleVery low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~05:00 
40o NNot visibleNot visibleNot visibleNot visibleVery low in the eastern sky during morning twilight at ~05:10 
EquatorLow in the western sky during evening twilight at ~19:00Low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~18:50Very low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~18:40Not visibleNot visible1-17
30SLow in the western sky during evening twilight at ~18:50Low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~18:50Very low in the western sky during evening twilight at ~18:50Not visibleNot visible1-18

According to the discoverer of the comet Elenin, Leonid Elenin The comet is absolutely safe for the Earth. It will be held at 34 million kilometers, .232AU, from Earth.”

Comet Elenin is a nice target and everybody is focused on Elenin and perhaps the last reported projected encounter towards earth .0004AU is correct, but the real danger might well come from ASTEROID 2005 YU55 (combined with the debris tail of Comet Elenin) on November 8 to November 9, 2011 at .0022 AU (329 115.6 kilometers / 204.502 miles) from Earth.

Earth will pass Elenin’s tail on Nov 1~7. When Earth moves through the meteoroid stream left from the passage of Elenin, meteor shower may occur. Meteor shower is usually due to earth passing trails of comets. For example, the Leonids is caused by Comet Tempel-Tuttle. What’s different this time is that Elenin has very small inclination. Elenin’s orbit is nearly coincident with the ecliptic plane, which is uncommon among comets.
There is no reliable proof of Elenin being disintegrated. We guess Elenin influences the Earth indirectly through the Sun, so the Sun may show early signs before earthquakes actually happen.

We don’t know the mass of Elenin. Even if Elenin has tiny mass, it is still an unique comet: long-period, perihelion distance, less than 1 AU, small inclination. There is no similar comet in the past 100 years.
Moreover, hydrogen cyanide (HCN) is found in Elenin. Many (but not all) comets have HCN. HCN is a good dielectric and may increase the capacitance of Comet Elenin.

There are around forty significant long-period and non-periodic comets in the past 100 years. We only know Comet Elenin, Comet Lulin, and C/1980 E1 have inclination less than 5°.
With a pair of protons, electromagnetic interaction is near forty magnitudes stronger than gravitational force. (more than one trillion trillion trillion times stronger!) Because planets are electrically neutral, gravitational force alone decides the orbits of planets. EM force is not involved. Science today has not fully understood comets, which may not be electrically neutral. If Elenin does origin from the Oort Cloud, and pass thousands of AU before entering the inner solar system, it may be charged.

Comet Elenin Upcoming Highlights

  • The comet will reach its most southerly declination of -5.7 degrees on September 10, the same day that it passes perihelion (0.48 AU).
  • The comet will pass less than 2 degrees from the sun on September 26.
  • The comet will pass 0.23 AU from Earth on October 16.
  • The comet will reach its most northerly declination of +30.9 degrees on October 28.
  • The comet will reach a maximum elongation of 175 degrees on November 22.


Orbit diagrams of Comet Elenin 

Discovery of Comet Elenin

Leonid Elenin (Lyubertsy, Russia) discovered this comet on four images obtained during the period of 2010 December 10.42-10.46 using the 45-cm astrograph and a CCD camera at the International Scientific Optical Network's robotic observatory near Mayhill, New Mexico. The magnitude was given as 19.5-19.6. The first confirmation came from A. Sergeyev and A. Novichonok(Majdanak Observatory, Uzbekistan), when they obtained four images during December 10.99-11.00 using the 1.5-m reflector and a CCD camera. The magnitude was given as 19.1 and the comet was described as a "teardrop-shaped, very diffuse coma." This coma was 6 arc seconds across and exhibited a nuclear condensation of magnitude 20.7, while a tail extended 10-12 arc seconds toward PA 298 degrees.

The first parabolic orbit was calculated by G. V. Williams on 2010 December 17. He took 33 positions from the period spanning 2010 December 10-12 and determined the perihelion date as 2010 April 1.81. The perihelion distance was given as 5.15 AU. Williams added, "It is possible that this comet is of short period." The Minor Planet Center released a revised orbit on December 18 that showed a quite different orbit. The perihelion date was given as 2011 September 5.47, while the perihelion distance was 0.45 AU. This was based on 57 positions from the period of December 10-17. This orbit was confirmed on December 24. We now know that the comet is moving in a very long-period orbit, with a perihelion date of 2011 September 10.75, a perihelion date of 0.48 AU, and a period of about one million years.

Several observatories kept the comet under observation through the remainder of 2010, as the comet slightly brightened to about magnitude 19.

Physical Parameter Table
comet total magnitudeM110.4mag0.934from 354 observations, assumed slope, autocmod 2.5a
comet total magnitude slopeK111. n/a34autocmod 2.5a
comet nuclear magnitudeM213.7mag0.834from 1786 observations, autocmod 2.5a
comet nuclear magnitude slopeK25. n/a34autocmod 2.5a
comet nuclear phase coefficientPC0.03 n/a34autocmod 2.5a

Comet Elenin observation

The comet has been well observed by observatories from the beginning of 2011 to the present, with visual observers finally picking up the comet on April 5. The comet began the year at a nuclear magnitude of about 19, and brightened to about 18 by February 1, 17 by March 1, and 16.5 by April 1. The January and February observations typically revealed a coma about 0.3' across and a tail extending 0.3-0.5'.

The first visual observation was acquired by J. J. Gonzalez (Alto del Castro - Aralla, Leon, Spain) on April 5. He was using his 20-cm reflector, giving the magnitude as 14.9 and noting a strongly condensed coma 0.3' across. As the comet continued to head southward, Gonzalez reported magnitudes of 13.7 on April 26, 13.2 on May 22, and 10.5 on June 25. During the same period, he noted the coma diameter was 1.3' in April, 1.2' in May, and 2.5' in June. Gonzalez noted on June 25 that the comet was "brighter than expected" and that the larger coma represented the dimension of a faint outer region that had become visible.

Another active observer was J. Cerny. Observing from locations in the Czech Republic and Croatia, he followed the comet from late April and throughout May using a 35-cm reflector. Cerny indicated the magnitude generally brightened from 14.8 on April 22 and 23, to 13.0 by May 31, while the coma increased from 0.8' to 1.5' during the same period.

Location of Comet Elenin

The comet's location in the sky made it increasingly more difficult for observers in the Northern Hemisphere and no observations were made after June. Observers in the Southern Hemisphere picked the comet up near the beginning of June, with A. Amorim (Florianopolic, Brazil) spotting the comet with his 20-cm reflector on the 4th. He gave the magnitude as 13.4. The comet was not observed during the first half of June; however, starting on June 21, M. Mattiazzo (Castlemaine, Victoria, Australia) began following the comet. On that date he reported the magnitude as 10.5, using his 20-cm reflector and noted a coma 3' across. Mattiazzo said the comet brightened to 10.0 by the 28th and then he switched to observing with his 25x100 binoculars and found the comet at magnitude 9.5 by July 30.

Although Mattiazzo was not the most prolific observer during August, his observations were the only ones to span all of August (at least as of the early September writing of this). His estimates of the comet's brightness also closely represented the estimates of all other observers. Continuing the use his large binoculars, Mattiazzo reported a magnitude of 9.0 on the 7th, 8.2 on the 17th, and 8.1 on the 19th. His next observation on the 22nd revealed the comet had dimmed to magnitude 8.8 and it was at 8.9 on the 23rd.

Another Australian observer, D. A. J. Seargent (Cowra, New South Wales, Australia) had seen the comet using his 25x100 binoculars on August 21 and had noted a magnitude of 8.1. This indicates that the comet faded by over half a magnitude in the 24 hours between the time of Seargent's August 21st observation and Mattiazzo's observation on August 22.

At the time of this writing, Amorim has provided the most recent magnitude estimate of this comet, giving the magnitude as about 9.4 on August 31 using an 8-cm reflector. He noted that the comet appeared very slightly condensed. Mattiazzo also acquired a fine series of images that seemed to reveal the comet was breaking up. (Cometography)

Orbital Elements at Epoch 2455650.5 (2011-Mar-30.0) TDB
Reference: JPL 34 (heliocentric ecliptic J2000)
 ElementValueUncertainty (1-sigma)  Units 

Orbit Determination Parameters

  # obs. used (total)     2219  
   data-arc span     235 days  
   first obs. used     2010-12-10  
   last obs. used     2011-08-02  
   planetary ephem.     DE405  
   SB-pert. ephem.     SB405-CPV-2  
   fit RMS     .6425  
   data source     ORB  
   producer     Otto Matic  
   solution date     2011-Sep-02 11:50:17  

Additional Information

Earth MOID = .0306273 AU 
 T_jup = 0.861 
Physical Parameter Table
comet total magnitudeM110.4mag0.934from 354 observations, assumed slope, autocmod 2.5a
comet total magnitude slopeK111. n/a34autocmod 2.5a
comet nuclear magnitudeM213.7mag0.834from 1786 observations, autocmod 2.5a
comet nuclear magnitude slopeK25. n/a34autocmod 2.5a
comet nuclear phase coefficientPC0.03 n/a34autocmod 2.5a

Elements and Ephemeris for C/2010 X1 (Elenin)

On images from Sept. 1st in the comet’s coma there was no condensation visible, and that meant the comet had already broken up into fairly small pieces, with a maximum size of not more than a hundred meters.

All the pieces continue to move on the comet's trajectory.  The large fragments are likely to continue to disintegrate into smaller ones. It is possible that in October when the comet moves into the morning sky, we will no longer be able to see what once was Comet Elenin. It is possible that something will be visible to large earth-based telescopes. The breakup of a long-period comet fairly close to the Earth (on a Solar System scale) is a rather rare event....

Overall, the most scientifically interesting thing is the breakup scenario, but unfortunately right now the comet is not visible to the largest telescopes or even the Hubble Space Telescope because of its close angular distance from the Sun (small elongation). On the other hand, amateur astronomers, awaiting this comet which might have been visible to the unaided eye, will now not see it, at least visually in their telescopes and binoculars.

Sept. 23rd the comet is due to appear in the field of view of the SOHO space coronagraph. (SpaceObs)

Elenin was quickly commandeered to be the tool of the cover-up, as it is a tiny comet, new to the field, so does not have a history for comparison. The cover-up roles re Elenin were that NASA would play the sober realist, assuring the public that is was merely a dirty snowball and would cause no harm. But NASA gave Elenin undue focus in the news, providing images and talking it up and explaining the trajectory which was projected to pass by the Earth.

Now that the public was somewhat alarmed, the second side of the campaign took over, to theorize and speculate and make unproven claims. Elenin was huge, bigger than Jupiter. Elenin was under intelligent control. Elenin was being followed close behind by Nibiru. Elenin would cause a pole shift, and was surely responsible for all the Earth changes that seemed to be on the rise, lately.

But suddenly things changed! Tiny Elenin, nothing more than ice and dust, was not venting steam into a brilliant tail but instead steam explosions were pushing the snowball apart, disintegrating. Although it is quite common for comets to disintegrate when they draw near the Sun, Elenin was assisted in this regard. (poleshift.ning)

On the graph you can see a selection of ten comets that approach the Sun closer than 0.5 a.u. The red line shows the boundary, to the left of which, derived from J. Bortle’s formula, is the safe zone, but to the right is the zone of disintegration. The yellow color shows Comet Elenin, with absolute magnitude obtained by visual observations, and the blue is from JPL-NASA data. As we see, Bortle’s formula, all-in-all, doesn’t work too badly. Although there is a bright exception – the green triangle belongs to the unique comet 96P/Machholtz.

Below you can see NEO Discovery Statistics by NASA'a Near-Earth Object Program.

AU = ~150 million kilometers
1 LD = Lunar Distance = ~384,000 kilometers
(2011 HD63) 2011-Sep-060.048418.880 m - 180 m22.69.87
(2008 EK1) 2011-Sep-060.084532.9230 m - 520 m20.324.79
(2010 JK1) 2011-Sep-090.134952.535 m - 78 m24.44.63
101955 (1999 RQ36) 2011-Sep-110.176668.7180 m - 410 m20.810.77
(2011 PS) 2011-Sep-120.061523.9220 m - 480 m20.412.66
(2011 PT1) 2011-Sep-150.108742.3230 m - 510 m20.37.66
(2011 QS49) 2011-Sep-150.037214.539 m - 86 m24.26.08
(2011 LJ19) 2011-Sep-150.042616.6160 m - 350 m21.210.05
(2011 KF4) 2011-Sep-160.145556.6350 m - 780 m19.410.32
(1991 TF3) 2011-Sep-160.085733.4430 m - 970 m18.913.84
(2011 PT) 2011-Sep-170.055021.439 m - 87 m24.23.06
(2006 BE55) 2011-Sep-170.189573.8110 m - 240 m21.918.79
232691 (2004 AR1) 2011-Sep-170.144456.2300 m - 670 m19.79.99
(2009 BW2) 2011-Sep-170.126149.125 m - 56 m25.13.32
(2007 VB138) 2011-Sep-180.081431.716 m - 36 m26.111.14
(2003 QC10) 2011-Sep-180.128450.0710 m - 1.6 km17.927.87
(2004 SV55) 2011-Sep-190.173567.5710 m - 1.6 km17.932.59
(2009 UR5) 2011-Sep-210.076029.619 m - 43 m25.78.96
(2007 TD) 2011-Sep-230.00973.836 m - 80 m24.411.91
(2000 SP43) 2011-Sep-260.139254.2560 m - 1.2 km18.410.67
(2009 SH2) 2011-Sep-280.077030.028 m - 62 m24.95.79
(2009 HV2) 2011-Oct-010.083932.6150 m - 330 m21.314.71
(2009 DO111) 2011-Oct-010.078730.671 m - 160 m22.96.79
(2011 FS2) 2011-Oct-010.192675.016 m - 35 m26.27.23
247517 (2002 QY6) 2011-Oct-030.127649.7330 m - 740 m19.522.68
(2011 HC36) 2011-Oct-040.098238.2180 m - 400 m20.812.69
(2011 QE38) 2011-Oct-050.060823.799 m - 220 m22.18.04
(2004 SW26) 2011-Oct-060.120947.020 m - 44 m25.712.43
(2005 TQ45) 2011-Oct-070.091735.721 m - 46 m25.613.65
85770 (1998 UP1) 2011-Oct-070.199777.7220 m - 500 m20.416.98
(1993 DA) 2011-Oct-080.195676.114 m - 31 m26.47.25
163081 (2002 AG29) 2011-Oct-090.198177.1620 m - 1.4 km18.27.28
(2010 CC55) 2011-Oct-090.181970.892 m - 210 m22.316.18
(1998 SD9) 2011-Oct-090.072528.241 m - 91 m24.112.62
(2010 GM65) 2011-Oct-120.038314.987 m - 190 m22.421.05
138524 (2000 OJ8) 2011-Oct-130.128049.81.5 km - 3.4 km16.210.36
(1990 UA) 2011-Oct-150.084532.9400 m19.616.64
(2009 TM8) 2011-Oct-170.00281.15.1 m - 11 m28.68.17
(2007 SV1) 2011-Oct-170.179269.731 m - 68 m24.713.35
(2009 UC) 2011-Oct-180.054721.313 m - 29 m26.612.94
(1998 SC15) 2011-Oct-180.121547.3360 m - 800 m19.416.79
(2001 UP) 2011-Oct-210.114944.720 m - 44 m25.711.55
(2003 FH) 2011-Oct-240.065325.4450 m - 1.0 km18.922.79
(2006 SP19) 2011-Oct-260.092436.033 m - 74 m24.510.13
(1993 VD) 2011-Oct-260.090235.1120 m - 280 m21.719.58
(2011 QY39) 2011-Oct-270.082632.2240 m - 530 m20.29.99
(2005 CJ) 2011-Oct-270.082732.2230 m - 520 m20.39.87
(2011 LC19) 2011-Oct-290.058022.6550 m - 1.2 km18.414.54
(2010 VU98) 2011-Oct-310.046117.930 m - 68 m24.710.21
(2009 VN1) 2011-Nov-060.129950.539 m - 88 m24.213.61
(2011 FZ2) 2011-Nov-070.195075.9980 m - 2.2 km17.224.09
(2007 VF189) 2011-Nov-070.123247.95.7 m - 13 m28.315.03
(2006 JY26) 2011-Nov-080.121047.15.7 m - 13 m28.36.59
(2010 LM68) 2011-Nov-080.186172.4180 m - 410 m20.89.55
(2005 XB1) 2011-Nov-080.074228.9120 m - 260 m21.813.15
(2005 YU55) 2011-Nov-080.00220.8110 m - 240 m21.913.72
(2004 VB61) 2011-Nov-090.188773.4100 m - 230 m22.06.29
(2008 UX) 2011-Nov-100.146457.0190 m - 430 m20.718.71
(1992 JD) 2011-Nov-110.113444.126 m - 59 m25.07.73
138852 (2000 WN10) 2011-Nov-120.131851.3270 m - 600 m20.013.15
(2008 NA) 2011-Nov-120.162063.148 m - 110 m23.712.01
154275 (2002 SR41) 2011-Nov-130.191874.6240 m - 540 m20.211.64
10145 (1994 CK1) 2011-Nov-160.176768.8920 m - 2.1 km17.313.10
(2010 WG3) 2011-Nov-170.116245.284 m - 190 m22.58.33
202683 (2006 US216) 2011-Nov-170.195876.2290 m - 660 m19.817.99
(2005 WS3) 2011-Nov-190.123448.0160 m - 350 m21.215.86
(2008 WL64) 2011-Nov-200.164564.0500 m - 1.1 km18.634.08
175706 (1996 FG3) 2011-Nov-230.101439.5670 m - 1.5 km18.08.13
(2010 RJ43) 2011-Nov-260.193575.359 m - 130 m23.310.65
(2008 KT) 2011-Nov-270.067426.26.0 m - 14 m28.24.97
(1994 XL1) 2011-Nov-280.118246.0180 m - 400 m20.816.36
(2005 AN26) 2011-Nov-290.091835.7550 m - 1.2 km18.412.51
(2002 TZ66) 2011-Nov-300.147157.318 m - 39 m25.94.30
(2004 JN1) 2011-Dec-010.147657.554 m - 120 m23.58.97
(2006 WO3) 2011-Dec-010.156360.8140 m - 300 m21.513.38
(2011 KG4) 2011-Dec-030.092035.867 m - 150 m23.012.51
(2010 TK7) 2011-Dec-050.199177.5200 m - 450 m20.614.62
170502 (2003 WM7) 2011-Dec-090.122447.6960 m - 2.1 km17.228.54
(2003 SS84) 2011-Dec-090.172367.0120 m - 260 m21.810.96
190491 (2000 FJ10) 2011-Dec-090.121347.2170 m - 370 m21.04.9

* Diameter estimates based on the object's absolute magnitude.


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