Numerous unknown objects constantly move around the earth, the sun, and the moon. Scientists observe the movements of these objects and any coalitions that occur using tools sent to space. These tools orbit the earth at calibrated speeds and distances from each other. On August 30, 1979, one of these tools recorded a comet colliding with the sun and releasing large energy waves. The energy waves were equivalent to 1 million hydrogen bombs.
The historic moment when the Comet Koomen Michels (formerly known as C/1979 Q1) collided with the sun was caught on camera by a coronagraph on the satellite P78-1, better known as Solwind.
- A coronagraph is a telescopic attachment designed to filter excess white light from a star so the human eye can make out events unraveling during extreme solar blasts.
- A sun-grazing comet isn’t one that actually touches the sun. Rather, it’s defined by a comet that gets within a few thousand kilometers of the sun’s surface.
- Aristotle is believed to have seen a sun-grazing comet.
- Solwind was launched on Atlas F on February 24, 1979, from the Vandenberg Space Force Base.
- Solwind was operational for 5 years. Its greatest contribution was capturing this comet. After it was discovered, scientists were able to pinpoint a number of other comets and asteroids.
- SOLWIND was destroyed in 1985 by a ground-based missile during a planned Air Force exercise.