by Robert Wilkinson
I've been asked to comment about Comet Lulin, the green comet now streaking through our solar system in apparent backward motion. Historically comets are regarded in astrology as distant wanderers, and while some return every so often, this is the first, and possibly last, time this particular celestial body comes to visit us. So just what could this comet portend?
While they were generally considered "evil" omens by the ancients, we have come to understand that nothing is evil in itself, so our interpretation must be adjusted. Supposedly comets show the end of an era and the beginning of a new one, along with history altering events and personalities.
One such was Halley's Comet, which marked the birth and death of Mark Twain, America's great literary giant and satirist. Comets also marked the births of Theodore Roosevelt and a generation later, his cousin Franklin D. Roosevelt. So I suppose we can forecast that at least one or two important personages will be born around this time period who will alter world events in decades to come.
There has been a lot of scuttlebutt around the web about possible meanings of this comet's visit, and I've even read that someone has confused this galactic wanderer with the planet Nibiru. Some say it's come before, while other sources say this is the first time it's visited our inner Solar system. So what's true, as far as we know?
From the NASA site, we find that this appears to be the first and only time it's visited us and been exposed to intense sunlight. It also states "Surprises are possible," which is fairly obscure in its meaning.
We read it will conjunct Saturn and oppose Uranus over the next week, and may be visible some places away from city lights. From news sources, we are told the best opportunity to view this comet is before dawn, a third of the way up the southern sky. It should be near Saturn and two bright stars, Spica and Regula.
On Feb. 16th, Comet Lulin passes Spica in the constellation Virgo. Spica is a very bright star, and Saturn is fairly prominent, so we have two guideposts we cannot miss. It will be closest to Earth on Monday, February 23, at 10:43 pm EST, and being only a few degrees from Saturn, should be visible in clear skies from Saturn's rising in the East through its culmination on the midheaven.
Discovered by a Chinese teen two years ago, it apparently has many of its original gasses which are usually stripped from comets when they are close to the Sun. This one has not approached the Sun before now, so it's got material it normally wouldn't have. Do we have anything to worry about, given the poisonous gasses involved and its closeness to the Earth? From the NASA site:
Lulin's green color comes from the gases that make up its Jupiter-sized atmosphere. Jets spewing from the comet's nucleus contain cyanogen (CN: a poisonous gas found in many comets) and diatomic carbon (C2). Both substances glow green when illuminated by sunlight in the near-vacuum of space.
In 1910, many people panicked when astronomers revealed Earth would pass through the cyanogen-rich tail of Comet Halley. False alarm: The wispy tail of the comet couldn't penetrate Earth's dense atmosphere; even it if had penetrated, there wasn't enough cyanogen to cause real trouble. Comet Lulin will cause even less trouble than Halley did. At closest approach in late February, Lulin will stop 38 million miles short of Earth, utterly harmless.
Also from the NASA site, an interesting correlation by its discoverer that could shed light on its possible effects:
Ye notes that Comet Lulin is remarkable not only for its rare beauty, but also for its rare manner of discovery. "This is a 'comet of collaboration' between Taiwanese and Chinese astronomers," he says. "The discovery could not have been made without a contribution from both sides of the Strait that separates our countries. Chi Sheng Lin and other members of the Lulin Observatory staff enabled me to get the images I wanted, while I analyzed the data and found the comet."
Perhaps this comet augurs a new collaborative era, where people and groups working together can discover important things they never could have discovered apart. Or even in its apparent backward movement along with stunning beauty, maybe it indicates that we could back into something and when we find others who also have backed into the same thing, we will find complementary understandings.
In the discovery process, one entity got the images, the other got the data, which led to the discovery. This may offer hints as to the influence of this galactic wanderer. In any case, it's interesting to note that the recent Solar Eclipse spoke of the emergence of "new mutations" from Cosmos, and now we welcome a first-time visitor to our Solar System. Some food for thought at the intersection of Fate Street and Free Will Street at a corner of Eternity Boulevard.
© Copyright 2009 Robert Wilkinson