Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Hubble Telescope Photographs An Amazing Comet

Here's a science story. 

A comet is an object in space, made, apparently of a type of ice, that follow a particular path through space.  Halley's Comet is probably the most famous type of comet.  It passes by the earth every 75 years or so.

This, apparently, is an amazing comet that will pass by and which will be visible in November.

The article:

Vocabulary to help you with the article:

iconic -  literally, an icon was a type of religious painting showing a facial image of a Christian saint (holy person).  Figuratively, an icon is something famous and important that has lasted a long time.  So the Hubble Telescope is "iconic" - it is one of NASA's most famous and important projects and it has been around for a long time.

to snap a picture - to take a picture

stunning - amazingly wonderful.  If a woman is wearing a very elegant gown and she looks amazing, her date might tell her that she looks stunning.  Literally, you be stunned means to be shocked.  But stunning has a good connotation (meaning).

to zip through - to go through very quickly

the icy wanderer - a comet is made of icy material and it "wanders" through space

to take a bead on - to get an accurate measure of something.  This term comes from people who like to shoot rifles.  To get a bead on something is to line your rifle up perfectly toward an object so that you can shoot it.

to pose a threat - to be a threat.  'pose' is used idiomatically here.  An example of this phrase:  Nobody realized that the two brothers who had immigrated to America posed a threat during the Boston marathon.

dusty head - the front part of the comet is called the 'head' here.  It is not just made of ice but also dirt.  So dust is just another term for dirt.

it sports a dust-blasting jet - to sport something can mean to wear something.  i.e.  Yesterday he was sporting a nice new jacket.  So this comet was 'wearing' a type of feature that allows it to blast out or shoot out a tail of dirt/dust.

a nucleus - the central part of something

complicating the forecast - making it more difficult to predict what will happen

to live up to its billing - to live up to its reputation.  A billing is a reputation.  It is a show business term.  If an actor has "top billing" that means his/her name is shown first when a movie is shown or advertised.

to fizzle out - to die slowly and quietly.  When you open the top of a bottle of soda, the soda fizzles.

pristine - pure, new

an upside - a good aspect or point of something

sublimates - this seems to be a specialized astronomical term. From context I am guessing it means for the dust and ice to come off the surface of the comet.

insight -  this is a good word to be able to use.  i.e.  After I read The Golden Bough I gained a greater insight into what religion was like before cities developed.  An insight is a special type of knowledge about yourself or something else.

composition - what something is made of

an observatory - a place where there are earth-bound telescopes and you can look at stuff in space.

amateur astronomers - unpaid astronomers, not profesionals
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