It doesn't help that the comet follows along the very same orbit as the hypothesized Planet X, a large brown dwarf star, asteroid, comet, or planet, that will bring with it the apocalypse. The apocalypse the Mayans, Hopi, Babylonians, and Sumerians might have predicted with their astronomical smarts way back when.
Leonid Elenin is a completely unique name (so far) in both Russian and English, and literally translates to: Prophetic meteor shower from the constellation LEO that peaks in November (defines Comet Elenin almost perfectly), extinction level event (ELE), and Nin (Sumerian lady god - the Sumerians referred to planets and stars as gods). So, since the person attached to it is an inconveniently private man who has limited traces online - mostly in Russian - many people have leeped to the conclusion that there really is no Leonid Elenin at all, that NASA has been anticipating this bad boy comet/planet/dwarf star for a while, and in reality Leonid Elenin is just a hint to us all that something really dangerous is up. Pretty compelling story, huh? Well, you can watch part of it on the big screen: Melancholia is coming out next month.
It Just Keeps Getting Bigger, and Bigger, and Bigger Fortunately, I've had many conversations with Leonid Elenin and his cohorts via Facebook. And most of them have shared their 2 cents on the whole Planet X conspiracy, in a nut shell they've (understandably) scoffed at it. Saying that, there is a sincere interest in this comet, and a back-of-mind concern that it could get a little too big or close for comfort. Check out Elenin's latest update on his blog, in fact:
April 8th at our observatory we carried out planned observations of Comet C/2010 X1 (Elenin). An analysis of the results of the observations shows a rapid growth of the coma. Besides the internal compact gas envelope, the forming rarified external coma is also visible in the image. It’s diameter exceeds 1 minute of arc, or 80,000 km! It is possible that such a rapid growth of the coma is associated with the apparent superposition over it of the comet’s dust tail, which after opposition, still remains invisible to the Earthly observer.So, I'm going to keep a steady watch on this until it's on its way out of our solar system. But I think we can all breathe a big sigh of relief that Leonid Elenin is a real dude.
The brightness of the comet also has crossed the 16m boundary, and according to the calculations of Artem Novichonok, has reached 15.4m. Such an estimate is supported by the first visual observations of the comet by Jakub Koukal and Juan Jose Gonzalez on the 4th and 5th of April respectively. It is worth noting that another well-known visual comet observer, Alan Hale, 1995 co-discoverer of comet Hale-Bopp, was not able to find Comet Elenin on April 5th with his 41-cm reflector…In the image at left still another event is captured – the close approach of Comet Elenin to asteroid 4336 Jasniewicz. Here the closeness of the objects, which are only 11 arc minutes apart, is not an optical illusion but a real physical closeness of two celestial bodies. At the time the image was obtained, the distance between the comet and the 6-km asteroid was just 1,495,000 km (0.01 AU), which is only 3.9 times the average distance between the Earth and Moon (LD). Closest approach of the two objects was several hours earlier; they were only 1,120,000 km apart (0.008 AU).
Leonid Elenin Is No Island
While I've yet to track down anyone who's actually met the guy in person, I've tracked down more than a few people who've worked with him via email and phone, and can verify that he is indeed a real person. One of Elenin's contacts even sent me a photo of Elenin with his daughter, which although I can't share, I can definitely say that it matches up to the other photos of Elenin on the Internet.
Here's a quote from Leonid Elenin himself:
I'm not a public man and don't like interviews and photos. But in the near future you can warch 1 minute interview with me :) I will post it on my site. You can read my position about the comet on my site. This is real comet, not a planet or brown dwarf. This comet not dangerous for us. If you have any questions feel free to ask, but I can answer with some delay...Here are some quotes from Elenin's peers
"My work with him [since Spring 2008] has been via email but then again the majority of people I work with in IASC I've never met and only work with through email. The communication I've had with him has been extensive. He's analyzed many, many datasets for IASC, worked on a supernova search project, and helped as we brought a 32" telescope up to speed for student discovery follow-ups. If he has the time IASC will work with him on an asteroid search program in Russia organized through the Russian Academy of Sciences. In fact, I wish he had more time to help in IASC because is very, very good at measurement and discovery. For people to think that his credibility is in doubt...that's ridiculous. It was just a comet that he discovered, nothing more or nothing less. What is the deal? I don't get it. There is nothing to debate other than what people have invented in their minds. In that context I understand why he is not giving out interviews."
"Hi! yep, i know him personally. We worked together a few time ago and i know him from 2007."
"No. I'm just having contact with him trough his website spaceobs.org (also here in Facebook) but I'm sure he is a real person, because some friends of mine, professional astronomers, had personal contact with him way before his last discovery in December"
"Yes, I know him personally. I know him since March 2008."
"Hi, I haven't met him, but I have talked to him though emails and Facebook. I have no doubt that he's real. "NASA and the government would have to have gone through a great deal of effort to create this personality just to warn us. Now that I have proof that Elenin is a real guy, I find this theory very hard to swallow. But we may still have something on our hands to worry about...which makes his birth name all that odder!!!....I still would love to get a quote from someone who's met him, or see an up-to-date video of him.
New Photos of Comet Elenin!
One of Elenin's contacts, another astronomy expert unsurprisingly, was kind enough to provide some new images of the comet.
"Attached is a photograph of the comet that four of my university students and I took last week on April 4-5. To see it move, flip back and forth between the two images. They were taken about 1 hour apart using a 16-inch telescope equipped with a scientific digital camera (CCD). Currently the comet is located about 285,000,000 km from Earth (730 times the distance of the Moon) and it is about 1500 times fainter that what the human eye can see."These photos were taken by the Ironwood North Observatory (Phoenix, AZ) and Hardin-Simmons University Spring 2011 astronomy students.