by Anura Guruge
My earlier post on the Camelopardalids Shower got me thinking about the now periodic orbit of Comet 209P/LINEAR.
I had tried to describe it in my post and given my experience with astronomy I could visualize the orbital path in my head. But I wanted to share it with you.
The it occurred to me — JPL.
So I went and captured these three diagrams for you.
The first gives you the macro view showing the full extent of the orbit from close to Earth to close to Jupiter.
In the second I zoomed in on Earth, on March 24, 2014, to show how Earth, always travelling counter-clockwise, is approaching the orbital path of 209P. We are getting the shower, hopefully storm, before we actually cross the path. But we are close. NO, we are not even close to getting hit by the comet. Sorry.
The third diagram shows how the orbit of a comet does not have to be on the same plane as that of the Earth or the other planets for that matter. The planets essentially all orbit on a relatively flat plane known as the ecliptic. That is the flat plane in the middle of the diagram. Earth is in there. Now you can see that the orbit of 209P comes in from over the ecliptic and then dips under. This explains why some comets are bets seen from the Southern Hemisphere.