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December Regular Meeting at SLAS

Using the MallinCam and Comet Holmes For the Holidays


Gary Kronk

The December meeting for SLAS will be a double-feature lecture by astronomer and
author Gary Kronk

On October 24, the faint Comet Holmes flared up to a half-million times its
former brightness and became readily visible to the unaided eye. It is still visible
in binoculars, even from suburban skies. Comet Holmes displayed such behavior in
1892, when it was first discovered, but has remained a telescopic object since then.
Mr. Kronk will present an update on this highly unusual object, including a number
of images he has taken and some informed speculation about the possibility of future

Comets, once feared as omens of future disaster, are now known to be relics
from the formation of the solar system. The nucleus of a comet is a chunk of rock,
dust, and ice only a few miles long. The relatively few comets that come closer
to the sun than the orbit of Jupiter undergo a startling transformation. Sunlight
heats the icy surface and causes gas and dust to be ejected from the nucleus. This
material forms a head usually thousands of miles wide and tails often millions of
miles long. While several new comets are discovered each year, few are bright enough
to be seen without a telescope. Comet Holmes is the brightest comet seen for over
a decade.

Mr. Kronk will also talk about his experience with video astronomy in general
and with the MallinCam in particular. The MallinCam is a color video camera specialized
for astronomy.

Gary Kronk has observed comets for almost four decades. He also writes extensively
about them, providing articles to a number of scientific periodicals and authoring
five books. During the past three years, since completion of the Kronk Observatory,
he has been photographing comets as well as observing them.


Gary Kronks comet website


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