Newswise — When Comet Lulin crossed the skies last week, more than 42,000 people around the globe watched the trip online.
The comet's journey was documented by an observatory in southwest Georgia, inside Columbus State University's Coca-Cola Space Science Center. The center's computers logged almost 5 million hits from 50 different countries. Viewing conditions were great for the comet, which was moving so fast that viewers of the Webcast could see the comet very easily as it moved against the background stars, said Shawn Cruzen, a Columbus State professor of astronomy and director of the center.
"This was really an amazing experience for us and for other space enthusiasts" Cruzen said. "Seeing a comet like this is pretty rare, and giving the world an opportunity to watch it online allows us to share the experience with thousands and thousands of people."
"It was fascinating to discover the top five cities with the most viewers weren't even in this country " they were San Salvador, Buenos Aires, Ankara, Gaza (Palestine) and Mexico City," he said. "We even heard from astronomers in Ireland and Canada."
Images and animations of the comet's journey are available online by clicking on "Comet Lulin" at www.ccssc.org.
Columbus State University's Coca-Cola Space Science Center has created a bit of a following online with its Mead Observatory, which features a 16-inch telescope that is available remotely, online, to students and astronomers around the world. The telescope's cameras are usually used for viewing the sun, but special events in the night sky, like comets and lunar eclipses, also are featured.