NASA’s buzz about comet Elenin
IMAGE: NASA JPL
NASA posted a video on their website Buzzroom last week, bringing attention to a recently discovered comet in our solar system. The comet was discovered by Russian astronomer Leonid Elenin in December last year. Comet Elenin, as it is called, is of particular interest to NASA because of the close proximity to Earth that its orbit will reach during its turn around the sun on its way back out through the solar system later this year.
Most orbits of planets are not circles; they are ellipses. The elongated ends of elliptical orbits are called aphelions and perihelions; the aphelion being the end farthest away from the stationary object being orbited, and perihelion being the end closest to the stationary object. In Elenin’s case, its trip around our sun represents the comet’s perihelion.
So little is known about this comet because of its relatively recent-discovery status, therefore, information regarding its size, mass, and orbit still vary widely or are missing altogether due to a lack of observational data. Still, astrophysicists have been plugging away at Elenin ever sine it was discovered last year.
NASA’s put a video up in their Buzzroom about Elenin, but it is not there anymore [it is on YouTube]. It was probably pulled down more due to its amateur nature rather than as part of any grand conspiracy theory, but the relative silence by NASA and the mainstream media regarding Elenin has the Armageddon chatrooms abuzz with theories of doom and gloom.
The fact, though, that conspiracy and end-of-the-world chatrooms are abuzz with tales of human annihilation does not discount the reality of this space object. It is real.
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has an interactive diagram of Elenin’s orbit with the known information about the object plugged into variable positions. What is known is that Elenin is scheduled to make its perihelion turn around the sun in August of this year . Shortly after making its u-turn, Elenin will perform a fly-by of Earth, coming within 21,000,000 miles of Earth. As a point of reference, the moon is roughly 240,000 miles from Earth.
Elliptical orbits with very long-periods, meaning the length of time it takes for them to complete their elliptical journey back to the starting point, are very difficult to calculate on moving bodies. Slight variations in measurements relating to the placement of the object over a given time can result in substantial differences in the measurement of the orbital period, meaning the length of time it takes the object to travel from perihelion to aphelion and back again.
In Elenin’s case, due to its recent discovery, not enough information has been taken to accurately define its period. In addition, measurements of Elenin’s path within our solar system have varied wildly since its discovery due to perturbation by the planets, meaning the gravity of larger objects in space can push and pull the comet, giving astrophysicists on Earth who are trying to measure its path difficulty in calculating its future position based upon its present trajectory.
While astrophysicists have identified the current path of Elenin with some degree of accuracy, the length of time it takes Elenin to complete its ellipse is not so well defined. Based upon one set of data, Elenin’s period could be 11,000 years; based upon another set of data, the period is 600,000 years. The truth is probably somewhere in between, but that is a large margin of possibilities. Most likely, this is why NASA is mum on the object; no one likes to look dumb, and astrophysicists are particularly sensitive in this area. Me, I’m genuinely curious on this one, so I’ll take the risk.
Space distance is measured in astronomical units [a.u.], with 1 a.u. being the distance from the Earth to the sun. That being said, Elenin is currently estimated to pass within 0.24 a.u. of Earth after it makes its turn around the sun and begins heading back out into space. It should be clarified here that the exact position of Elenin as it passes by Earth is still unknown, so people who say it will hit Earth are just as inaccurate as those that are saying it will not.
There is a lot of space and a lot of objects in between where it is now and its approach to Earth that could affect its path, and the slightest push or pull could magnify dramatically over the course of 100 million miles. In addition, gravitational forcings of planets in the inner solar system as they align themselves during the comets incoming path could act as a forcing mechanism that either causes the 0.24 a.u. to either widen or shrink.
Elenin has recently entered the inner solar system and should pass through Mars orbit by the end of June sometime. There are several alignments that happen between then and its rendezvous with Earth that could alter its trajectory slightly.
The ecliptic is a horizontal field created by the planets and sun orbiting on a relatively flat plane. Many of these long-period objects do not travel along the ecliptic plane. They either come up from below the ecliptic, cross the ecliptic, and travel out above the ecliptic plane, or they do the opposite. In Elenin’s case, it will cross the ecliptic on September 11, 2011, and shortly thereafter line up with Mercury, the Sun, and the Earth. There is no telling how such an alignment on the ecliptic plane will affect the trajectory of Elenin.
From October 10-24, 2011 comet Elenin is forecast to be within 0.25 a.u. of Earth, according to NASA JPL diagram.
You have reached the end of factual information on Elenin.
In the modern world that we are living in, Elenin is simply a comet, but since the beginning of time, space objects have fascinated mankind, inspiring stories that have been passed down for millenia. Even though technology has taken over our lives and the magic has been sucked out of the natural world, the stories still exist, and on a certain plane, long-period time, these stories ARE reality. We just happen to be living in a time when our short-sightedness is running headstrong into long-period time, and in some ways, our space knowledge through technology is just beginning to catch up to that held by the ancients.
There are two stories that describe human short-sightedness within long-period time I want to mention; the first is the story of the Blue Star and Red Star Kachinas in Hopi Prophecy. According to these stories, the Blue Star Kachina acts as a warning, an alarm bell, that announces the imminent arrival of the Red Star Kachina. The story is about the cyclical nature of life; it is a story about humanity forgetting to remember its purpose; it is a story of destruction and purification; it is a story repeated a thousand times throughout history; and as always, it is ultimately a story of renewal.
The other story comes from the Sumerians. The Sumerians referred to an ancient planet called Nibiru, the 12th planet of our solar system. It was a rogue planet, causing havoc in our solar system as it passed through because its orbit was in the opposite direction of the planets. When it appeared, it did so in the shape of a red cross in the night sky before flipping the Earth’s poles.
Combining the two stories, this is the Red Star Kachina that sits in judgement as life on Earth is reset.
There is a lot of the information online regarding stories relating to near-earth misses from heavenly bodies, and it is all incredibly cryptic and mostly contradictory when compared together. The information provided here on the Hopi and Sumerian is done so as to give a sampling of the saner rambling explanations of an incredibly complex topic, that is, long-period time, a topic coming to light more so each day as the end of the Mayan calendar approaches 12.21.2012, a topic based upon such complex heavenly motions that NASA can’t even explain its meaning yet using modern world high-tech gadgetry. To dismiss these ancient stories is to dismiss the majesty and complexity of the planet, solar system, galaxy, and universe that we live within.