Wouldn’t astronomers have seen the comet by now?
- 90% of the sky is unpatrolled by professionals.
- NASA annual budget for 1997 was $13.8 billion. It spent less than one million dollars in 1997 in support of Near earth Asteroid and Comet survey. Britain contributed a one off grant of £6000.
- The Near Earth Asteroid Program, a small under funded project, finds about 3 new earth crossing orbit asteroids a month.
- The earth passes through the Taurid meteor stream 24th June – 6th July and again 3rd November – 15th November. This stream contains approximately 200 asteroids of more than 1km in diameter.
- In August 1998, a 1.6km asteroid passed within 6hrs of Earth.
As an example of a recent comet consider Shoemaker Levy 9, a short period comet. It was discovered in March 1993 – it had a parent nucleus size of ~10 km [Sekanina, Chodas, Yeomans]. It had actually made a very close approach to Jupiter in summer 1992, when it broke into 21 fragments – undiscovered at this time. It impacted into Jupiter July 1994 as has been fully documented.
Surely satellites and deep space probes would discover the comet before it’s appearance at the time of the eclipse? Firstly, governments will not necessarily inform the public. Also, consider 1979 where U.S Naval Research Laboratory, through an Air Force Satellite, photographed the previously unknown comet 1979 XI crash into the Sun, but the comet remained unreported for TWO AND A HALF YEARS, until the researchers looked at the film!