Posts Tagged ‘Planet’

Comet Elenin is NOT a satellite of a Brown Dwarf Star

June 10, 2011 3 comments

Written by Ian Musgrave of Astroblog.

Space is big, you think it’s a long way to the shop if you want a sausage roll, but compared to space it’s nothing [1]. Against this vastness our sense of scale is confounded.

An example of this came this week when a correspondent asked me about my observations of comet 2010 X1 Elenin [2]. One of the prominent internet memes going around at the moment is that Elenin is actually the Moon of a Brown Dwarf star or a Brown Dwarf star itself (often claimed to be 4 times Jupiter’s size). I was asked if I could look out for something dim close to Elenin. There is just one problem, a Brown Dwarf close to Elenin would be very bright. Elenin currently is just outside the orbit of Mars (visualised in Celestia, click images to enlarge)

Brown Dwarf stars are stars that have only a few times the mass and radius of Jupiter; they are too small to start hydrogen fusion, although they may run for a short while on deuterium fusion. They are typically quite cool compared to main sequence stars, and emit very little visible light.

From a distance of a few light years or more they are invisible to optical telescopes. To find these dim almost-stars, we need to look with infrared sensitive telescopes. For example the WISE telescope had as one of its missions surveying for Brown Dwarfs. The coolest Brown Dwarf so far discovered by WISE is WISEPC J045853.90+643451.9 which is over 18 light years away. With a temperature of 600 K it is hot enough to melt lead and tin, but is totally invisible to our current optical telescopes.

But while these almost stars produce very little visible light of their own, they reflect light perfectly well. If you go out in the early morning and look to the north-east, you will see a bright object well above the horizon (brighter Venus is well below it). That is Jupiter, a failed Brown-Dwarf, which we can see just fine.

Elenin is currently just outside Mars’s orbit, we can easily calculate how bright an object 4 times Jupiter’s size would be at that distance using the formulas here. I’ve put my calculations up on Google Docs for people to play with (click this link for access to spreadsheet [3]).

Simulation of what a Brown Dwarf would look like in the sky tonight if it was near comet Elenin’s current position. I’ve used Stellarium’s cometary body codes, using a dark, non-luminous object with 4 times Jupiter’s diameter. It would be kind of obvious. If a Brown Dwarf with a surface much darker than the Moon was at Elenin’s distance (as of June 1), it would have a magnitude of -6.5.

This is much brighter than Venus, bright enough to cast shadows at night and bright enough to be easily seen in daylight. This is an under estimate, as a Brown Dwarf would be more likely to be more reflective, more like Jupiter. An object 4 times Jupiter’s size just outside Mars’s orbit would also be visible as a small disk (you can do the calculations for this one as an exercise for yourselves, see the Stellarium simulation above).

Simulating a non-self luminous Brown Dwarf using fruit. The granny smith apple is the Brown dwarf. Left hand panel, the Brown Dwarf at Pluto’s orbit. Right hand panel, the brown Dwarf at Mars’s orbit. The mandarin is Jupiter, the lillypilli pit is Mars and and the lillypilliy (closest to torch) is Earth. Distances have been scaled at 10 cm= I AU.

Brown Dwarfs are only invisible to us because they lie deep in the vasty dark, away from any light sources that can illuminate them. This is what causes confusion for some folks. Brown Dwarfs themselves produce little or no visible light but they are perfectly capable of reflecting light, as does Jupiter.

Here’s a test you can do yourself with a torch an some pieces of fruit. I’ve scaled the solar system so that 1 AU (the distance from Earth to the Sun) is 10 cm from the torch I’m using as the Sun. Mars’s orbit lies 25 cm away, Jupiter’s orbit is 62 cm away and Pluto’s orbit is 4 meters away. The orbit of the hypothetical planet Tyche would be two blocks away, and the nearest star, Proxima Centauri, lies 2.7 km away on the other side of Taperoo. I’ve used a lillypilli for Earth, a mandarin for Jupiter and an apple for a Brown Dwarf (see diagram above).

Strictly speaking, if I wanted to scale the diameters of the planets to the scale of the solar system, then I would have used 1 meter for 1 AU, them the Brown Dwarf would be 2 mm in diameter (I leave it as an exercise for the reader to test this themselves).

As you can see, when the non-self luminous “Brown Dwarf” is at Pluto’s distance, it is fairly dim, but when we move the “Brown Dwarf” to just outside of Mars’s orbit, it is quite bright. The atmosphere of a real T class is probably as reflective as a Granny Smith (but more a Magenta colour). Such an object would be readily visible in the night sky.

Leonid Elenin himself has done a simulation on his website ( of what would happen to solar system orbits if a Brown Dwarf passed through. It would be quite obvious.

What if we replace comet C/2010 X1 (Elenin) by brown dwarf with mass about 0.05 of Solar mass? This video demonstrate time interval from 2000 to 2020 years. As you can see, dramatic changes in the orbit of Saturn would have started 3 years ago. But at this time all planets are on it’s nominal orbits. I think myth about “brown dwarf instead comet Elenin” is debunked. You can see that by yourself.

Numerical integration was carried out by ORSA software using RADAU15-th order integrator.

Summary: So, as you can see, it is impossible for Elenin to be a moon of a Brown Dwarf star (also we would have noticed its orbital motion by now) or a Brown Dwarf itself.

[1] Obligatory Douglas Adams homage, with added AC/DC.
[2] I haven’t got any yet, either I’ve got the time wrong and the comet has set, or the observatory is closed because of bad weather.
[3] Note that for the H calculation Do is in Km, but for the magnitude calculation, Do is in AU. The calculated magnitudes of Venus, Jupiter and Neptune agree with their observed magnitudes.

Comet Elenin is not a danger to the Earth

April 5, 2011 6 comments

Comet C/2010 X1 (Elenin) is a comet discovered by Russian astronomer Leonid Elenin on December 10, 2010. Elenin was using a robotic observatory near Mayhill, New Mexico.

Mr. Elenin is an amateur astronomer from Lubertsy City, Russia, near Moscow. He is a graduate of the Moscow Aviation Institute, works as a researcher at the Keldysh Institute of Applied Mathematics (Russian Academy of Sciences), is married, and is bilingual (Russian and English). He volunteers with the International Astronomical Search Collaboration, and runs a website at He has had a passion for astronomy since childhood, and studies minor Solar System objects and variable stars. He has discovered more than 10 variable stars and numerous asteroids, and now, a comet.

On December 11th, 2010, Leonid Elenin posted news on his site of a “new and interesting object” discovered during a “routine survey of the sky on Dec. 10, 2010”. The discovery was made at the independent Russian remote observatory ISON-NM, which is located near Mayhill, New Mexico. The observatory is operated under the Russian project ISON (International Scientific Optical Network). His observations were confirmed by Aleksei Sergeyev and Artyom Novichonok at Madinak Observatory in the Ukrane.

Initially the comet was thought to be a short period comet, with aphelion near the orbit of Jupiter, and a perihelion inside the orbit of Earth. However, over a week after its discovery, the Minor Planets Center at Harvard published the orbital elements, revealing that the perihelion would be near Mercury! It was still unclear as to whether this was a rogue (a one time event) or a periodic comet. Further observations and calculations show that its period is on the order of 10,000 years, and that this is likely its first pass through the inner solar system. This leads to the prospect of a very bright comet in 2011. Leonid Elenin also estimates that the comet nucleus is 3-4 km in diameter.

According to the JPL Small Body Database C/2010 X1 is a Hyperbolic Comet, meaning that it will not return. However, Leonid Elenin has calculated that due to perturbations to the comet’s orbit from the gas giant planets, that the orbit of his comet will be modified to a long-period elliptical orbit, and that it will return in about 10,000 years.

Comet Elenin is in an orbit that is close to the plane of the ecliptic. It is currently just past opposition and about 3 times farther away from us than we are from the sun. Here is an illustration of the comet’s orbit as of April 5, 2011.

In August 2011, Elenin will become a naked-eye visible object, as it sweeps in closer to the sun than the Earth is.

By September 1st, 2011, Comet Elenin will approach the orbit of Mercury, and it will reach Perhelion on September 5th. In just a little over a month it will have traveled from the orbit of the Earth to the Orbit of Mercury. At this point it will be so close to the sun from our vantage point that it will be completely hidden. However, it will be visible on solar-observing spacecraft such as STEREO and SOHO.

On October 17th, 2011, Comet Elenin will make its closest approach to the earth. However, its distance to the Earth will still be huge, nearly a quarter of the distance between the earth and the sun.

Wild Claims.

Instead of being excited about the possibility of a naked-eye visible comet, some people are making some very strange and wild claims about the comet, or about Leonid Elenin. Some people are apparently questioning whether Leonid Elenin is even a real person, despite the fact that he is acknowledged as a contributor in various scholarly journal articles since 2009.

Elenin will not collide with Earth.

At its closest approach, Comet Elenin will be 34 million kilometers (21 million miles) away from the Earth. It will also be 4 million kilometers (2.4 million miles) above the orbit of the Earth. See this image showing that Elenin will be well above Earth’s orbit, and this image, showing it will be well ahead of the earth in it’s oribt and the videos below created by member obaeyens using the orbital simulator AstroGrav.

The Earth will not pass through Elenin’s tail.

A common misconception of comets is that the tail streams out behind the comet. Even if that were the case, the images and video above show that we would not pass through the tail. However, the tail of a comet does not stream out behind the comet’s path, but rather points away from the Sun. As such, the tail will never be in a position to cross the path of the Earth.

Even if the Earth were to pass through the tail of the comet, the only effect on the Earth would be a nice show of meteors. The Perseid meteor shower occurs every year between August 9 and 13 when the Earth passes through the orbit of Comet Swift-Tuttle. Comet Halley is the source of the Orionid shower in October.

Leonid Elenin is a real person.

Yes, it has been claimed that “Leonid Elenin” does not, in fact, exist, but that instead his name is a ‘coded message’. The poster finishes off a list of what they see as ‘hints’ in the circumstances with the statement:

You know the way TPTB operate. Everything is scripted well in advance and they use Hollywood to drop clues.

Or, it could be that the poster watches too many fictional movies and thinks that they are ‘coded messages’ from “The Powers That Be”.

Does Leonid Elenin even exist?
Comet Elenin a “smokescreen” for Nibiru:

Don Yeomans on C/2010 X1

Don Yeomans has weighed in on the comet, saying:

“So you’ve got a modest-sized icy dirtball that is getting no closer than 35 million kilometers,” said Yeomans. “It will have an immeasurably miniscule influence on our planet. By comparison, my subcompact automobile exerts a greater influence on the ocean’s tides than comet Elenin ever will.”

NASA’s David Morrison on Comet Elenin claims

“The comet never comes close to the Earth, but it is expected to be visible in binoculars during August and October. Part of the Internet chatter concerns its size. Comets are exceedingly small and enveloped in a tenuous cloud of gas and dust, so the only way to be sure of their actual dimensions is to visit with a spacecraft. This means its mass is less than one billionth the mass of the Earth. Needless to say, we will not be aware of the tiny gravitational pull from Elenin.”

This is a quote from a David’s answer to a question on the “Ask an astrobiologist” page. He has received lots of questions about Elenin as well.


1. Elenin, Leonid. “Новый интересный объект нашей обсерватории | SpaceObs.” Сайт обсерватории ISON-NM / ISON-NM Observatory Site. Web. 06 Apr. 2011. <>.

2. Elenin, Leonid. “«Кометы могут представлять серьезную угрозу» – интервью «Газете.ru» | SpaceObs.” Сайт обсерватории ISON-NM / ISON-NM Observatory Site. Web. 06 Apr. 2011. <>.
3. Beatty, Kelly. “Bright Prospects for Comet Elenin? – Observing Blog.” 24 Dec. 2010. 06 Apr. 2011 <>.
4. International Astronomical Search Collaboration. “Employee List.” Home. 06 Apr. 2011 <>.

Scientists try to calm 2012 hysteria

October 21, 2009 1 comment

2012As an upcoming action movie fuels Internet rumors, several scientists make public statements: The world will not end in 2012, and Earth is not going to crash into a rogue planet.

Is 2012 the end of the world? If you scan the Internet or believe the marketing campaign behind the movie “2012,” scheduled for release in November, you might be forgiven for thinking so. Dozens of books and fake science websites are prophesying the arrival of doomsday that year, by means of a rogue planet colliding with the Earth or some other cataclysmic event. Normally, scientists regard Internet hysteria with nothing more than a raised eyebrow and a shake of the head. But a few scientists have become so concerned at the level of fear they are seeing that they decided not to remain on the sidelines this time.

“Two years ago, I got a question a week about it,” said NASA scientist David Morrison, who hosts a website called Ask an Astrobiologist. “Now I’m getting a dozen a day. Two teenagers said they didn’t want to see the end of the world so they were thinking of ending their lives.” Morrison said he tries to reassure people that their fears are groundless, but has received so many inquiries that he has posted a list of 10 questions and answers on the website of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific (

Titled “Doomsday 2012, the Planet Nibiru and Cosmophobia,” the article breaks down the sources of the hysteria and assures people that the ancients didn’t actually know more about the cosmos than we do. “The world will not come to an end on Dec. 21, 2012,” E.C. Krupp, director of Los Angeles’ Griffith Observatory, declared in a statement released Thursday by the observatory and Sky & Telescope magazine. Krupp debunks the 2012 doomsday idea in the cover story of the magazine’s November issue.

Morrison said he attributes the excitement to the conflation of several items into one mega-myth. One is the persistent Internet rumor that a planet called Nibiru or Planet X is going to crash into the Earth. Then there’s the fact that the Maya calendar ends in 2012, suggesting that the Maya knew something we don’t. Finally, end-of-the-worlders have seized upon the hubbub about the 2012 date to proclaim their belief that end times are drawing near. Morrison, who heads the Lunar Science Institute at the Ames Research Center in Northern California, has coined a term for the phenomenon: “cosmophobia,” a fear of the cosmos. According to Morrison, for the most vulnerable among us, all of the things we’ve learned about the universe in the last century have only increased the number of potential threats to our existence.

Besides fearing a rampaging planet, the worriers think the sun might lash out at the Earth with some calamitous electromagnetic force. They also fear that some sort of alignment between the Earth and the center of our galaxy could unleash catastrophe. Krupp said that the scare-mongers would have us believe that the “ancient Maya of Mexico and Guatemala kept a calendar that is about to roll up the red carpet of time, swing the solar system into transcendental alignment with the heart of the Milky Way, and turn Earth into a bowling pin for a rogue planet heading down our alley for a strike.”

According to Rosemary Joyce, a professor of anthropology at UC Berkeley, the Maya never predicted anything. The 2012 date is approximately when the ancient calendar would roll over, like the odometer on a car; it did not mean the end — merely the start of a new cycle.

Some authors have tried to merge that idea, Joyce said, with Maya mythology that said the Earth had gone through multiple ages of creation, each ending in a disaster. “But there’s no prediction,” she said. “They did not predict the end of the world.”

Morrison says it’s hard to know whether the people who have written to him with their fears represent a fringe or a larger cross-section of Americans who, distrustful of traditional sources of information and the authorities behind them, are falling victim to the Internet’s snake-oil salesmen.

In such an environment, the viral marketing campaign for the movie “2012,” which encourages people to “Vote for the Leader of the Post-2012 World,” can seem like confirmation of the apocalypse, rather than of an upcoming 90-minute entertainment vehicle.

A spokesman for Sony Pictures, Steve Elzer, said: “We believe consumers understand that the advertising is promoting a fictional film.”

Morrison said the movie’s distributors are feeding the “panic” by creating some of the fake science websites. Most of the sites, Morrison said, are full of misinformation and speculation, often by people who have written books they are trying to sell.

Morrison said he could not address the motives of people who were feeding the alarm, but added: “It’s wrong to tell lies to frighten people merely to make a buck.”

What most worries him is the level of alarm in some of the most recent messages.

“I’m getting more and more questions from people who are upset and scared,” he said. Some people say their children are refusing to eat.

In the publication Morrison has posted online, he says that astronomers would long ago have spotted a rogue planet headed for Earth, that the so-called photos of Nibiru on the Internet are fictitious, and that just because the Maya calendar in question ends in 2012, it doesn’t mean the Maya were predicting the end of the world.

“The calendar on my desk ends on December 31, 2009. I do not interpret that to mean the world is going to end that day.”

Source: LA Times

The Planet X Challenge!

October 19, 2009 2 comments

UPDATE: Looks like TheWireTap was suspended because of his views. However, our offer in this challenge still stands.

YouTube user TheWiretap has made a great video challenging 2012/Nibiru believers to enter a legally binding contract whereby if Nibiru fails to show up by 2013, all of your worldly possessions will belong to him. If it does show up, everything he owns will belong to you. As we here at Yowcrooks are 100% confident this 2012/Nibiru doomsday is pure tripe, we’ll give £1,000GBP to each person who agrees to enter into TheWiretaps contract and should Nibiru show up before 2013 you’ll have £1,000GBP in your pocket. If you’re a believer in Nibiru and think this is a waste of time because £1,000GBP or someones worldly possessions will be useless to you with all the global destruction that Nibiru will bring about, then you shouldn’t have any problem putting yours on the line. If you’re so cock-sure this is going to happen then what have you got to lose? So far, not surprisingly, no-one has had the balls to enter into the contract.

Jupiter hit by comet?

July 21, 2009 2 comments

UPDATE: An object that hit Jupiter last year with a force equivalent to a few thousand nuclear bombs, which left it with a scar the size of the Pacific Ocean was probably an asteroid, say astronomers. Click here for the full report.

Astronomers say Jupiter has apparently been struck by an object, possibly a comet. Images taken by Nasa show an Earth-sized scar in the atmosphere near the south pole of the gas giant. The images, taken by the US space agency’s infrared telescope in Hawaii, come on the 15th anniversary of another comet strike.
In 1994, Jupiter was bombarded by pieces of the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9. Scientists at Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, captured the new images after receiving a tip from an Australian amateur astronomer, Anthony Wesley, on July 19.

“We were extremely lucky to be seeing Jupiter at exactly the right time, the right hour, the right side of Jupiter to witness the event. We couldn’t have planned it better,” JPL scientist Glenn Orton said in a statement released by the lab. Orton said the event “could be the impact of a comet, but we don’t know for sure yet.”


This image released by Nasa/JPL shows a large impact on Jupiter’s south polar region captured on July 20, 2009, by Nasa’s Infrared Telescope Facility in Mauna Kea, Hawaii. Astronomers say Jupiter has apparently been struck by an object, possibly a comet, leaving an Earth-sized scar on the giant planet. The images also show bright upwelling particles in the atmosphere, detected in near-infrared wavelengths, as well as a warming of the upper troposphere with possible extra emission from ammonia gas detected at mid-infrared wavelengths.

We thought we would post this news on our blog as it will no doubt have many 2012ers and doomcryers somehow relating this event to Nibiru, especially via YouTube. It’s just the way these people work unfortunately.

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