Skip to comments.Newfound Comet Could Look Spectacular in 2013 ( Comet ISON )
Posted on 12/27/2012 6:32:20 AM PST by Las Vegas Dave
A newly discovered comet has the potential to put on a dazzling celestial display late next year, when it will be so bright you may be able to see it briefly in the daytime sky.
The discovery of the object named Comet ISON was announced Monday (Sept. 24) by Russians Vitali Nevski and Artyom Novichonok, who detected it in photographs taken three days earlier using a 15.7-inch (0.4-meter) reflecting telescope of the International Scientific Optical Network (ISON), near Kislovodsk. The new comet is officially known as C/2012 S1.
When first sighted, Comet ISON was 625 million miles (1 billion kilometers) from Earth and 584 million miles (939 million km) from the sun, in the dim constellation of Cancer. It was shining at magnitude 18.8 on the reverse scale used by astronomers to measure the brightness of sky objects (the lower the number, the brighter the object). That makes the comet currently about 100,000 times fainter than the dimmest star that can be seen with the unaided eye.
The most exciting aspect of this new comet concerns its preliminary orbit, which bears a striking resemblance to that of the Great Comet of 1680. That comet put on a dazzling show; it was glimpsed in daylight and later, as it moved away from the sun, it threw off a brilliantly long tail that stretched up from the western twilight sky after sunset like a narrow searchlight beam for some 70 degrees of arc. (A person's clenched fist, held at arms length, covers roughly 10 degrees of sky.)
The fact that the orbits are so similar seems to suggest Comet ISON and the Great Comet of 1680 could related or perhaps even the same object.
Comet ISON will be barely visible to the unaided eye when it is in the predawn night sky, positioned against the stars of Leo in October 2013.
On Oct. 16 it will be passing very near both Mars and the bright star Regulus both can be used as benchmarks to sighting the comet. In November, it could be as bright as third-magnitude when it passes very close to the bright first-magnitude star Spica in Virgo.
The few days surrounding the comets closest approach to the sun on Nov. 28, 2013, are likely to be most interesting. It will whirl rapidly around the sun in a hairpin-like curve and perhaps becomes a dazzlingly bright (negative-magnitude) object.
The comet will then whirl north after perihelion and become visible during December both in the evening sky after sunset and in the morning sky before sunrise. Just how bright it will be and how long the tail may get during this time frame is anybodys guess, but there is hope that it could evolve into a memorable celestial showpiece.
Of possible interest to the ping list.
Of possible interest to the ping list.
Sure, who can forget the glorious Comet Kahoutek? /s
This image shows the newfound comet C/2012 (ISON) as seen by the Remanzacco Observatory in Italy. The image, taken by amateur astronomers Ernesto Guido, Giovanni Sostero and Nick Howes, is a confirmation view of the comet, which was first discovered by Vitali Nevski (Vitebsk, Belarus) and Artyom Novichonok (Kondopoga, Russia). Image released Sept. 24, 2012.
With the rolling blackouts due to Obama’s new EPA regulations and/or the collapse of the dollar I'm sure it will look awesome in the pitch black light pollution free sky
My loving children gave me a totally unexpected gift for Christmas, a very cool telescope. I intend to look at the skies much more closely from now on.
Two words of Caution: Comet Kahoutek
I will believe this when I see it.
Yeah, Kahoutek was a total bust and Haley wasn’t so great in the Northern hemisphere. But then Hyakutake and Hale-Bopp put on quite a show for us.
Get your purple shrouds ready!
The fact that the orbits are so similar seems to suggest Comet ISON and the Great Comet of 1680 could [be] related or perhaps even the same object.An 'extra extra' for APoD members. Hope your Christmas holiday was great.
Just an off-list ping to X-Planets members, probably of interest, and here’s some additional material:
[snip] On November 14, 1680, Gottfried Kirch detected a new comet, becoming on that day the first person to discover a comet using a telescope. Astronomers throughout Europe tracked its position for several months. It was visible in the Northern hemisphere and by the end of that year the comet became bright enough to be seen at noon as it completed its hairpin turn around the Sun. The long, golden tail of the comet of 1680 was estimated to be 30,000,000 miles in length. Originally thought to be two comets, the comets of late 1680 and early 1681 were in fact a single comet observed before and after perihelion, a situation that hindsight reveals as critical in the determination of the cometary trajectory. Upon examining the course of comets, it is easy to believe that some of them must occasionally fall into the sun. The comet 1680 approached so near, that, at its perihelion, it was not more distant from the sun than a sixteenth part of its diameter; and, if it returns, which some predict, in the year 2255, it may then fall into the sun. This must depend upon the accidents it meets with in its course, and the retardations it suffers in passing through the sun’s atmosphere. [/snip]
I hope its a good one.
Many rock bands put out songs about Comet Kahoutek including Argent, Journey and the like. A singer-songwriter named Gordon Lightfoot penned a song titled "The Tail Of The Comet Kahoutek" but was wise enough to not release the song before Kahoutek was pronounced a dud. A couple of years later, he redid the lyrics and retitled the song "The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald" which became a monster hit for him.
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