Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

1/2/2013 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Comet could also spawn a meteor shower.

The comet of the century may be barreling toward Earth and holds the promise of a spectacular display. Here's how to see this remarkable object and what to expect.

The arrow points to the area where to look for ISON now. Unfortunately, you will need a very large scope to spot it now. It will be visible in 8'-10' scopes in September.

The arrow points to the area where to look for ISON now. Unfortunately, you will need a very large scope to spot it now. It will be visible in 8"-10" scopes in September.

Highlights

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

1/2/2013 (1 year ago)

Published in Technology

Keywords: star chart, Comet ISON, close approach, great comet, meteor shower


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Comet C/2012 S1 (ISON), simply dubbed Comet ISON in the media, was discovered on September 21 beyond the orbit of Jupiter, and almost immediately created a sensation in the astronomical community. The comet holds the promise of becoming so bright that it may be visible in the daytime sky.

Amateur Russian observers, Vitali Nevski and Artyom Novichonok, working as part of the International Scientific Optical Network (ISON) discovered the comet. Quick observations revealed that its orbit is highly parabolic; meaning it will plunge very near the sun, then head straight back out into the distant solar system - provided it survives its close solar approach.

In October, the comet will pass close to Mars and scientists will attempt to photograph it from around the Red Planet the using the cameras on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

At its closest to the sun, Comet ISON will be just 1.8 million kilometers from the solar surface, or just over one million miles. This is extremely close, and some comets that pass that close do not survive the approach, breaking up and melting into the solar wind instead.

The great question for Comet ISON, is whether or not it will survive this fiery brush with the sun. Assuming it survives, it will likely become extraordinarily bright and visible, even in the daytime sky. It's chances are fair, as comets often survive even closer approaches than this. After approaching the sun, the comet will next pass near us, just 40 million miles from Earth.

Comet's ISON's odds cannot be predicted since this is almost certainly the first time it has entered the inner solar system from its likely origin in the Oort cloud. The Oort cloud is a halo of comets believed to exist at the distant edge of the solar system, remnants of creation. Scientists believe that occasional gravitational perturbations can knock these comets out of their distant orbits and send them falling towards the sun.

As an added bit of trivia, scientists think the comet could be a relative of one that became known as the Great Comet of 1680. That comet was also visible in the daytime sky. Scientists suspect this because the orbits of both objects appear to be very similar, although data from 1680 is not as accurate as today's measurements. It is even possible the comet could be the same one, although this is less likely because ISON's orbit appears to be very long.

However, the anticipated brightness of Comet ISON will be a direct result of its intense heating rather than parentage. Since comets are partially comprised of frozen liquid, typically water, the heating releases vapor into space around the comet's nucleus. The water vapor reflects more light than the surrounding dust, which makes the comet's tail appear very bright.

Scientists estimate the comet may become brighter than the full moon, which would make it visible in the daytime sky.

The comet should be visible to the naked eye starting sometime in late October or early November, and will remain visible, if it survives, until January 2014. After that it will return to the outer solar system, where it will probably remain for several thousand years, judging from its extreme, parabolic orbit.

To view the comet, one will merely have to look in the direction of the sun, although viewers must only use their eyes, and not optical aids such as telescopes and binoculars, for safety reasons. The comet will be very obvious in the sky, appearing as a bright fuzzy patch, likely with a long, diffuse tail pointing away from the sun.

There is, of course, one value-added bonus that may come with the comet. Earth will pass through ISON's orbit inviting the possibility of a new meteor shower around January 14-15, 2014. Meteor showers are produced when Earth passes through the orbits of comets, even if the comets are hundreds or thousands of years distant. This is because comets tend to repeat their orbits over millions of years, constantly adding dust in their wake.

Comet ISON will be the second of two comets that should be visible to the naked eye in 2013. In March, the comet C/2011 L4 will be easily visible through binoculars and probably reach naked-eye visibility for a short time as it passes near the sun.

Anyone wishing to view Comet ISON now, will need a large telescope, a dark sky, and a chart to locate the object, which is presently too dim to see otherwise. The comet is in the constellation Gemini, moving towards Cancer. It will probably become visible to 8-10 inch scopes sometime in September. The star chart in the image shows where to look.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for November 2014
Lonely people:
That all who suffer loneliness may experience the closeness of God and the support of others.
Mentors of seminarians and religious: That young seminarians and religious may have wise and well-formed mentors.



Comments


More Technology

Hydrogen-running car to be sold by Toyota Watch

Image of Mirai's compressed hydrogen gas will be stored in two tanks mounted underneath the vehicle. The cars emit no exhaust, although fossil fuels are used in the production of hydrogen and to pressurize it.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Toyota, the world's largest auto manufacturer plans to begin selling the world's first hydrogen-powered car. The company only expects to sell 400 in Japan and 300 to the rest of the world immediately - but it's being recognized as the first emission-free made ... continue reading


BACK FROM THE DEAD? Scientific community rages on whether to clone Wooly Mammoth back to life Watch

Image of In order to bring the wooly mammoth back into the realm of the living, an elephant would have to act as a surrogate, carrying the mammoth for 22 months before giving birth.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A new attempt to bring the long-extinct wooly mammoth back to life through cloning is raging anew in the scientific community. South Korean scientists believe the Ice Age "Mammuthus" can be brought back to life using the DNA of an extremely well preserved ... continue reading


Fascinating photos beamed back from comet by Philae probe Watch

Image of The agency can't guarantee if Philae will once again be operational, but even if it does not the agency says it is

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

After landing on Comet 67P last week, high-resolution pictures have now been released taken by the Philae probe. Acquired by the Narrow Angle Camera on the Rosetta satellite, the dainty robot was dropped towards the surface of the "ice mountain" - although the ... continue reading


Prepare to be surprised as you enjoy these rare, colorized historic photos Watch

Image of A photograph of a Japanese samurai taken in 1881.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A thread on the popular social media website Reddit is taking the internet back in time, bringing famous and unusual photographs from history and colorizing them. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - These amazing photos show slices of life from the late 19th ... continue reading


UPDATED - So we've landed on a comet, what's the big deal? (PHOTOS) Watch

Image of The Rosetta probe will orbit comet 67/P and continue studying it as it approaches the sun.

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Today, a European Space Agency (ESA) probe will become the first man-made object to land on a comet. The washing machine-sized Philae lander will touch down on the surface of comet 67P/Churymov-Gerasimenko. As the world follows the landing with bated breath, we cannot ... continue reading


U.S. strikes at 'Dark Net': Seizes $1 million and arrests 17 Watch

Image of During a joint operation between the U.S. and European countries, 400 websites, including Silk Road 2.0, that were trafficking illegal goods were shut down. Also seized were about $1 million in bitcoins.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Over 400 hidden internet sites, including the infamous drug selling and trading website Silk Road 2.0, have been shut down in a joint operation between the United States and 16 European nations. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - These sites are charged with being ... continue reading


DANGER, DANGER Will Robinson: Amazon 'Echo' will soon be in every home, analyst says Watch

Image of Critics say

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Internet marketplace leader Amazon announced the introduction of their new gadget Echo last week. Naysayers were quick to dismiss it along the lines of Apple's Siri, Google Now or Microsoft's Cortana. Columnist Mike Elgan of ComputerWorld disagrees, predicting ... continue reading


Building a better potato: Genetically Modified 'Zombie' Potatoes Watch

Image of Developed by the J. R. Simplot Company, a privately held company based in Boise, Idaho, the company was the first supplier of frozen French fries to McDonald's in the 1960s. Simplot the founder, who died in 2008, became a billionaire.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Acrylamide, which is suspected of being a cancer-causing agent, is produced whenever potatoes are fried. Now, agricultural researchers have perfected a new version of the potato with DNA that has been altered to minimize the agent. The Food and Drug ... continue reading


Big losses for Amazon in the Stock Market Watch

Image of Amazon sales are down, and some worry the company will not meet its goals for the 2014 Holiday shopping season.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

American retail giant Amazon has revealed some shocking financial news, that it has lost nearly $500 million in the past three months. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Amazon's shares dropped by 11% in after-hours trading, which took more than $15 billion off the ... continue reading


So, the Apple haters were wrong again - take a bite of this! Watch

Image of Apple has seen growth in the sales of its iPhones and Macs from this time in 2013, while sales of tablets have shrunk in the same time frame.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Tech giant Apple has sold 39.3 million iPhones over the past quarter, which includes sales of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus which were released in the United States on September 19. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Sales of the iPhone rose past most expectations, ... continue reading


All Technology News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-17
11 "For the Lord Yahweh says this: Look, I myself ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 23:1-2, 2-3, 5, 6
1 [Psalm Of David] Yahweh is my shepherd, I lack ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 25:31-46
31 'When the Son of man comes in his glory, escorted ... Read More

Reading 2, First Corinthians 15:20-26, 28
20 In fact, however, Christ has been raised from the ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for November 23rd, 2014 Image

Bl. Miguel Pro
November 23: Born on January 13, 1891 in Guadalupe, Mexico, Miguel Agustin ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter