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Meet Malcolm Hartley, Discoverer of Comet Hartley 2

 

Comet Hartley 2 in 1997
  Comet Hartley 2 in 1997. Credit: NASA

September 2010 - It's a big thrill knowing that the EPOXI mission will be visiting the comet I discovered. I hope that the upcoming, November 4, encounter turns out to be worthwhile for both the mission and NASA. The mission has been brilliant to date and it would be great to end it with a bang (not literally). Since comets and their composition play a major part in our studies of the Solar System, discovering the signature of water and other volatiles through spectral analysis of the comet's surface and coma would add weight to discoveries already made from the analysis of Deep Impact Tempel 1 data. The Stardust-NExT flyby of Tempel 1 next February will be the icing on the cake for NASA's brilliant comet missions and a special birthday present for me.

Malcolm Hartley
Malcolm Hartley

I dreamt that I might be an astronomer one day (or even an astronaut) but never imagined hunting for or discovering a comet. For future astronomers or anyone who is interested in searching the skies, you don't need to spend a lot of money on sophisticated instrumentation. All you need to do is read around the subject, join an astronomy club, and get out into the countryside away from the city lights to see the dark sky in its true glory. If you really get hooked into the astronomy bug, visit the southern hemisphere for the best views of the galactic centre and the Magellanic Clouds. You'll have a lot of fun and meet a host of interesting characters while doing it.

  Comet Hartley 2 discovery images   Malcolm Hartley looking in a microscope   Comet Hartley 2 image  
  Comet Hartley 2 discovery image taken by Malcolm Hartley.   Malcolm Hartley   Image of comet Hartley 2 taken by Malcolm Hartley in 1992.  

For more information, please see http://epoxi.umd.edu/.