Sky Plot for Comet 9P/Tempel 1
The motion of comet 9P/Tempel 1 is shown on the star background for 7 months prior to its encounter with the Deep Impact spacecraft on July 4, 2005. The encounter will take place near the position of the first magnitude star Spica in the constellation of Virgo. Because of the Earth's motion about the sun, the comet appears to do a retrograde loop on the sky during February through April 2005. The same type of retrograde loop is shown for the planet Jupiter that will be in the same region of the sky. For some of the dates given, a rough estimate for the comet's apparent magnitude is provided. Depending upon how much dust is kicked up by the impacting spacecraft, the comet's apparent magnitude could be briefly as much as 4 magnitudes brighter than indicated.
CREDIT: Illustration provided through the courtesy of Dale Ireland.