MadSci Network: Astronomy

Re: Where is Halley's Comet right now.

Date: Fri Nov 26 08:48:08 1999
Posted By: Adams Douglas, Senior Developer
Area of science: Astronomy
ID: 943277917.As

Mike, to answer your question I used an MS-DOS program "Dance of the Planets" from ARC Software, which I've always enjoyed for its accuracy.

As to the question of when "right now" is, I selected midnight Pacific Time on Thansgiving Day 1999 (1999-11-25).

Here's Halley's position as seen looking "down" on our Solar System; with the Sun and South Celestial Pole in the center of the image. The horizontal line going off to the right points to the Vernal Equinox. Halley's orbit is the small diagonal ellipse pointing up and left from the center. Halley's current position is indicated by the label "1986III", its designator for its most recent perihelion passage.

To get a better sense of Halley's position in three dimensions, here's two more orthogonal views, one looking parallel to the plane of the ecliptic:

And another looking towards the Autumnal Equinox:

Finally, here's where Halley appears to be in the sky as viewed from Earth, along with a dialog box showing its distance from Earth and Sun in AU, and it's celestial and local (for San Diego) coordinates:

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