News / Science & Technology

    German Flight Set to Take Off with Comet Tourists

    FILE - A photo released on January 4, 2013 of Comet 2011 L4 (Pan-STARRS) observed on Aug. 9, 2012 by David Asher (Armagh Observatory) and student James Hadnett (Royal School Armagh) using the 2-m diameter Faulkes Telescope South at Siding Spring, Australia. (Credit: Armagh Observatory)
    FILE - A photo released on January 4, 2013 of Comet 2011 L4 (Pan-STARRS) observed on Aug. 9, 2012 by David Asher (Armagh Observatory) and student James Hadnett (Royal School Armagh) using the 2-m diameter Faulkes Telescope South at Siding Spring, Australia. (Credit: Armagh Observatory)
    Reuters
    A German travel agency is selling tickets for a flight to give 88 astronomy buffs a close-up view of one of two rare comets expected to pass Earth this year.

    Eclipse Travel, based in Bonn, has joined charter agency Air Partner and airline Air Berlin to organize flight AB1000 on March 16 as comet Pan-STARRS passes through the solar system, 100 million miles from Earth.

    The last comet to dazzle Earth's night-time skies was Comet Hale-Bopp, which visited in 1997. Comet 17P/Holmes made a brief appearance in 2007.

    The Boeing 737-700 flight will zig-zag at 11,000 meters (36,089 feet) altitude for the viewing with an Air Berlin spokesman saying only 88 of 144 seats on board filled to ensure all travelers are close to a window.

    "If the weather is very good and the air is clear you can certainly see the comet from Earth,'' Air Berlin's Karsten von dem Hagen, Teamleader Sales Ad Hoc Flights, said in an e-mail to Reuters on Tuesday. "But at an altitude of 11,000 meters you are most likely above the clouds. The air there is thinner, clearer and cleaner, which enables better observation of the comet."

    An astronomy expert will be on board to explain the comet that NASA described as a new comet that should be visible by the naked eye and about as bright as the stars of the Big Dipper as it passes through the solar system this month.

    NASA scientists said the comet could send an amazing tail of gas and dust into the night sky but the cosmic show could be less than dazzling if the comet falls apart under the heat and gravitational pull of its plunge toward the sun.

    The comet Pan-STARRS, discovered by astronomers in Hawaii in 2011, is the first of two comets expected to pass Earth this year.

    The second is ISON, which is forecast to be one of the brightest comets ever seen and could even outshine the moon when it flies by in late November.

    Eclipse Travel is selling tickets for the two-hour flight for between 359 euros ($470) and 509 euros, according to its website.

    You May Like

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora