Volcanic Comet 29P vs. ‘Do Vaccines Work’?


This weekend another odd and most tantalizing event occurred on a comet near Jupiter that has excited astronomers and made folks like me ponder things that seem more like Hollywood than the solar system.

For several weeks I have been following, through Spaceweather, the happenings on Comet 29P. During this time the comet has erupted through volcanic action which at times, as it has been reported, became 250 times brighter than usual, like a lit match becoming a bonfire. These explosions are so large that they can be viewed with a solid telescope from your home.

I write about this matter as space and the mysteries of the universe have always intrigued me. But I also post about this matter from the perspective of 2021 in America where too many of our fellow citizens are waxing about the usefulness of vaccines!

Our nation, along with the world, should be spellbound and inquisitive about this comet. But too many are stuck at a stunted level with science so not to even be aware of how to effectively curb a pandemic.

Comet 29P photographed less than 12 hours after the Oct. 23rd eruption. Credit: Jean-Francois Soulier of France.

Comet 29P is one of the strangest objects in the solar system. In fact, it strains the definition of “comet.” 29P is a ball of ice 60 km wide (much larger than a typical comet) trapped in a planet-like orbit between Jupiter and Saturn. It appears to be festooned with ice volcanoes which erupt ~20 times a year.

A rapidfire “super-eruption” of 4 volcanoes in late September created an expanding shell of vaporized cryomagma, which astronomers have been monitoring. Yesterday’s eruption propelled a new compact shell into the old larger one.

29P rotates once every ~58 days. As sunlight sweeps across its frozen surface, cryovolcanoes erupt under the high sun. “The latest eruption has taken place some 59 days after a similar event on August 25th, and may be an example of an outburst from the same cryovolcano erupting a second time on the next rotation of the nucleus.

It is dismaying that we must continually deal with the most elementary level of science among a wide swath of our adult population. Recent events with the pandemic have underscored how underprepared people are at basic reasoning after completing, upon graduation, their public education.

As a result, for example, the slow pace of vaccinations in many parts of the nation has sucked up all the bandwidth so there is no time to dive into a volcanic comet on most news broadcasts. Given the lack of science standards in too many public schools, curiosity over such matters was never developed among much of the populace.

This below then, is what could be the topic with others around ‘the national backyard fence’. We should not only ask ourselves about the comet, but we also must address what has happened to our education system in the nation.

And so it goes.

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