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)
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Photogallery Pope's Easter Prayer: Peace in Ukraine, Syria

Pontiff also calls for end to terrorist acts in Nigeria, violence in Iraq, and success in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians More

Abdullah Holds Lead in Afghan Presidential Election

Country's Election Commission says that with half of the ballots counted, former FM remains in the lead with 44 percent of the vote More

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid