Comet Hartley 2 (November 4, 2010). Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UMD.
Today, at 10:01 EDT, NASA's Deep Impact spacecraft successfully approached and photographed Comet Hartley 2, which is currently flying near earth. The comet is about a mile wide and named for Australian astronomer Malcolm Hartley. I'm sure he must be having a pretty good day today! He's at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory right now, observing the closeup pictures of the comet he discovered. The main NASA page on the EPOXI mission is here. More photos just released are here. You can follow a live press conference about this mission on the internet today. From the NASA site: "A post-encounter news conference will be held at 1 p.m. PDT (4 p.m. EDT) in the von Karman auditorium at JPL. It will be carried live on NASA TV. Downlink and schedule information is online at http://www.nasa.gov/ntv. The event will also be carried live on http://www.ustream.tv/nasajpl2."
Amazing NASA video of Comet Hartley 2 from October 26-27, 2010. Video Source: NASA.
You have a chance to see the comet for yourself if you look up around the constellation of Orion in the northern hemisphere tonight or tomorrow night. You might also see some related meteors, fireballs or shooting stars. Machines Like Us reports: "So for the next two evenings, we may see more of Comet Hartley 2. And if you have dark skies and a small telescope or binoculars, try to find Comet Hartley 2 itself. It will be near the bright star Procyon in the constellation Canis Minor near Orion the Hunter, which will be high overhead in the early hours before dawn."