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Which would you rather see?


Zermelo
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The recent appearance of the Tau Herculids (in the news at least, if not in the sky) got me thinking that we're overdue a really spectacular, naked eye event.

If you lived long enough to see just one of the following, which would you go for?

(1) A meteor storm:

image.jpeg.a549de5c1cc3a48d787c882a142cbf7a.jpeg

... like in 1833 or 1872 (a little artistic licence, perhaps). 
Measured in numbers per second, rather than "one or two a minute, if we're lucky".

 

(2) A "great" comet:

https://i0.wp.com/racingnelliebly.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/2-CometDonati.jpg?ssl=1

... like they used to have in Victorian times (did the Victorians use up more than their fair share of celestial fireworks?).
With a tail visible to the naked eye half way across the sky. Or multiple tails, even.
OK, their lack of light pollution must have helped.

 

(3) A supernova bright enough to be obvious in daytime:

image.jpeg.ec1bcad18aa1358e67b00f52e4256b19.jpeg

Not Victorian!

 

Personally, I think I'd like to see a really good comet.

 

 

 

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Uhhh why not have both... A great comet, super great. And earth going through its tail for a nice meteor shower. The fragments may hit Starlink and alike satellites for a glorious cascade and satellite shower :D

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I like to believe I'll go on forever, but, truth is I'm growing old.

So, excuse me for being selfish!

I want all three, plus first contact.

(Friendly ETs of course!)

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Waiting for Betelgeuse to go BANG!

It will probably happen during summer and we'll be clouded out for months.

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Have seen a normal not-great comet and plenty of shooting stars so supernova it is for me definitely. Preferably somewhere in lower declinations so that it barely gets above the horizon and doesn't actually bother me at night 🤣. Betelgeuse would be convenient as its not that high in the sky most times...

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A really bright comet with a spectacular tail or two would be great - each one is so unique they are almost like living things, as they grow, brighten and change shape over time. But I think a supernova visible during the day would be something to behold, although a bit of a pain at night perhaps! Which one? Hmm let’s go for the mega-comet. 🙂

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Supernova for me too please!

I've enjoyed a few notable comets so that box is ticked.

An epic meteor storm would be awesome but very much in the moment.

A daylight supernova would last a long time and then give birth to a new remnant that we and future generations could observe the evolution expansion of..eventually. A gift that keeps giving?

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I'd like to see a Great Comet.

I also wish we lived near a bright planetary nebula - imagine if the Ring Nebula was the size of the Moon (in angular dimensions of course).

 

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I’m going to be the odd one out and say a really good meteor storm. I know C/2020 F3 NEOWISE wasn’t the most dramatic of comets but it was still pretty decent. I reckon a full on meteor storm would be pretty exciting 👍

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A meteor storm for me- I saw comet Hale Bopp and Hyakutake and they were great, but worsening light pollution in the intervening years means that even ‘great comets’ may not be that great anymore….Similarly a daylight visible supernova will still just be a really bright star (can’t really believe I just typed that)….so I think the meteor storm is likely to be the most striking, albeit transient, visual spectacle.

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Posted (edited)

I know it's not on the menu but I think a total solar eclipse 2takes some beating as a life experience.

I've experienced two in excellent conditions. And they were an experience, you obviously see it but I also felt it and heard it. Emotional saturation for me. I doubt even a great storm of great comets  passing through a constellation of supernovae would beat it.

Edited by Paul M
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I've seen hale-Bopp. Although a supernova would be amazing, the descriptions of a meteor storm I've read recently seem staggering. Especially intriguing is the way it was described as showing you how the earth was hurtling through space. We're flying THROUGH the comet debris, so a storm would be like  driving through a snowstorm in  the dark.

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Posted (edited)

I’d go for the Supernova - everything else is local traffic. 
Brilliant thread btw :) 

Edited by SuburbanMak
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Well, I guess that I have been really lucky as I consider that I have seen all three options.

Comets West in 1975/6, Comet Hale-Bopp 1995, McNaught 2006, Lovejoy 2011.

Meteor shower - Leonids in 1999  at about 5000/hr.

Supernova 1987 that I estimated at the time reached mag 2.8.

Admittedly, these can be improved upon but I was just lucky to be living in the right  hemispheres at the right times for these.

Nigel

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47 minutes ago, Astrobits said:

Leonids in 1999

I'd had that in my mental calendar for decades. But as the day approached life was dragging me in other directions.

I still had my mind on it but failed to get out of bed early enough. I got up for work at about 6am and looked outside to see a number of persistent meteor trails still hanging there in the dawn sky.

I soon realised I'd missed something special🥺

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Posted (edited)

I was in Southern Portugal for the Leonids. It was one of the few places in Europe that was clear that night. The storm started about 1am and lasted for less than 2 hours although there were stragglers outside those times. (The start also coincided with the rising of the radiant so the first few meteors were VERY long). I videoed them but, of course the video camera only recorded the brightest ones. An edited version is up on youtube. Ignore the time on the video, I forgot to correct it. On youtube look for Leonids 1999.

Nigel

Edited by Astrobits
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