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Published on Jul 12, 2012
Comet 96P/Machholz or 96P/Machholz 1 is a short-period comet discovered on May 12, 1986 by amateur astronomerDonald Machholz on Loma Prieta peak, in central California using 130 millimetres (5.1 in) binoculars.On June 6, 1986, comet 96P/Machholz passed 0.40373 AU (60,397,000 km; 37,529,000 mi) from the Earth.Comet 96P/Machholz will next come to perihelion on July 14, 2012. 6P/Machholz has an estimated radius of around 3.2km. Machholz 1 is unusual among comets in several respects. Its highly eccentric 5.2 year orbit has the smallest periheliondistance known among numbered/regular short-period comets, bringing it considerably closer to the Sun than the orbit ofMercury. It is also the only known short-period comet with both high orbital inclination and high eccentricity. In 2007, Machholz 1 was found to be both carbon-depleted and cyanogen-depleted, a chemical composition nearly unique among comets with known compositions. The chemical composition implies a different and possible extrasolar origin.
Big sunspot AR1520 unleashed an X1.4-class solar flare on July 12th at 1653 UT. Because the sunspot was directly facing Earth at the time of the blast, this is a geoeffective event. Stay tuned for updates about possible CMEs and radio blackouts. The UV and X-ray pulse from the flare will have partially ionized Earth's upper atmosphere on the dayside of our planet, disturbing the normal propagation of radio signals