Comet Passing is “Space Mission in Reverse”

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There is plenty of activity in the night sky this weekend. In addition to the Geminid meteor shower, scientists say one of the brightest comets of the year will pass overhead. The Comet 46p/Wirtanen will be about 7 million miles away, which is close. In fact, it is one of the closest comets to pass by earth in recent times. Auburn University astrophysicist Dennis Bodewits says it is a rare sight.

“Comets are spectacular,” Bodewits says. “Not only are they amazing to see in the sky, but they’re also leftovers from the time when our solar system was formed.”

With this comet coming so close to earth, it is an opportunity for scientists to learn more about it. Bodewits will use three of NASA’s state of the art telescopes to zoom in on the comet and study its features. He is looking for more information about what it is made of and the activity of the gases around it.

“We call it a space mission in reverse,” Bodewits says. “Rather than flying to a comet and study it, this comet flies to us.”

If the weather is clear, Bodewits says the best view will be Sunday night. From a dark spot, the comet should be visible with the naked eye, but he recommends using binoculars or a telescope. Look for the Orion constellation and follow the arrow.

 

WBHM to launch podcast featuring in-depth reporting on Alabama’s prisons.

WBHM 90.3 FM is launching a podcast, “Deliberate Indifference: the story of Alabama’s prison crisis and the people inside it,” the product of reporter Mary Scott Hodgin’s in-depth research on Alabama’s prisons. The first episode will be available Wednesday, May 18. Listen at DeliberateIndifference.org or wherever podcasts are available.

Judge’s ruling a “sigh of relief” for families of transgender youth

A federal judge in Alabama ruled to block part of a law that makes it a felony to provide gender-affirming care to minors on Friday. Families with transgender kids tell WBHM they are cautiously relieved.

Transgender medication law in Alabama blocked by judge

The law made it a felony to prescribe gender-affirming puberty blockers and hormones to transgender minors. U.S. District Judge Liles Burke issued a preliminary injunction to stop the state from enforcing the medication ban, which took effect May 8, while a court challenge goes forward.

JeffCo Probate Judge: tightened security will delay voting returns in the primaries

Jefferson County’s chief election official is warning that a new voting security measure will delay returns from the May 24 primary elections.

Inside the manhunt for an escaped murder suspect and jailer

U.S. marshals and sheriff’s deputies led an 11-day manhunt for an Alabama murder suspect and jailer who were heavily armed and preparing for a shootout when they were captured.

Alabama jailbreak mystery deepens as manhunt ends with death

Jailer Vicky White was pronounced dead at a hospital after murder suspect Casey White gave up without a fight in Evansville, Indiana. The fugitives had spent more than a week on the run through three states.

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