Showing posts from November, 2007

Texas Renaissance Festival 2007

We went to TRF this past weekend and had a great time as always. The pictures above go to this year's photos set on Flickr.

Comet Holmes!

I have been meaning to post something about this very interesting comet for a week now... better late than never, I guess.

The comet, which usually hangs out in an orbit between Mars and Jupiter, had already made its closest pass by the sun (which wasn't all that close) and was heading back out, orbiting happily along at 17th magnitude. For those of you unfamiliar with the astronomical magnitude scale - that's VERY faint (about 24,000 times fainter than what you can see with the unaided eye). Then, on the night of October 23rd, it suddenly got bright. VERY bright. Over all, it ended up increasing about a million times in brightness in a day or two, probably from an outgassing event.

I was running the regular open house on one of the campus telescopes last Wednesday and decided to give the comet a look at the end of the night. I really had no idea what to expect, especially from the middle of Austin, with a nearly full moon, a large football stadium with all of its lights on and…