<Edited by Robert D. Morningstar>
Any object that passes close to Earth (as Comet Elenin will later this year) is bound to create some interest, but this particular comet seems to be attracting more attention than usual.
Comet Elenin C/2010 X1 was discovered by a Russian astronomer, Leonid Elenin, in December of last year, and he estimates the size of the comet to be around 3-4 km in diameter.
Unfortunately, it is a little difficult to see at the moment, even if you have a powerful telescope and know where to look. However, this should change on the 16th of October, when it passes within 0.233 AU (21,700,000 miles) of the Earth.
As the orbit of this comet is somewhat eccentric, there has been some speculation about its true course and whether it will in fact pass much closer to the Earth. One person has been sufficiently concerned about its changing path as to suggest that it may be piloted by an alien being.
Here's NASA's preview of Elenin's Orbit and passage close to Venus, Mercury and Earth:
Others have suggested that it may not be a comet at all and have claimed it is a dwarf star, which has already caused a number of earthquakes on our planet (including the recent one in Japan). Apparently, the date of the first alignment between Elenin and the Sun coincides with the Japan earthquake.
The next alignment we should be concerned with (according to these reports) occurs between the 26th and 27th of September this year, but that should only be a potential problem if Elenin really is a dwarf Star.
It is perhaps of no surprise that “Planet X” has been included as a possible contender for the “comet”, but I have to admit that this seems unlikely. I have written many articles on this subject (the latest you can read HERE). I’m not saying “Planet X” does not exist, because there seems to be evidence to suggest that it does. However, this very large object was reportedly seen on Google Earth some time ago, but later “blacked-out” from the map. The fact that Comet Elenin can not be seen yet, indicates that the two objects are not the same, otherwise it would probably be visible to the naked eye.
My feelings are that Elenin is a comet, and not a dwarf star or Planet X, but we will have to wait a few more months before we know for sure. If it is just a comet, our planet should pass through its tail sometime on are after the next alignment date (27th of September), but it is unclear what effect that will produce.
Shortly after this event (if we are still around to witness it), there will be a giant asteroid also passing close to Earth (November the 8th), and you can read more about that HERE.
The closest that Elenin will pass to the Earth will be 35,000,000 Kiometers
or 21,747,991.728 miles...
For More Information:
Jet Propulsion Laboratory Data on Comet Elenin
JPL Small-Body Database Browser
Space.Com --> A Wimpy Comet?