Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

11/25/2013 (8 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

One of nature's greatest spectacles is just days away -- if the little comet survives.

It's showtime for Comet ISON. After sixteen months of hype, the potential "comet of the century" has reached perihelion. But what happens next remains a mystery as Comet ISON's trial by fire begins.

Comet ISON imaged in the predawn sky.

Comet ISON imaged in the predawn sky.

Highlights

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

11/25/2013 (8 months ago)

Published in Technology

Keywords: Comet ISON, close approach, great comet, viewing, visibility, magnitude, perihelion


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Comet ISON has been visible for the past week in the pre-dawn sky for those who know where to look. As of this morning however, it has moved too close to the Sun for most people to spot. Within the next few days, it will actually pass behind the Sun from our perspective. What happens next is a matter of luck.

Comet ISON reaches perihelion, that is its closest approach to the Sun, on Thursday, which is the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States. On that day, the comet will skim just three-quarters of a million miles of the seething-hot, boiling plasma-surface of the Sun. The tiny comet, just about 2 km across, will be subjected to extreme tidal forces, heat, and solar radiation that could easily tear it to pieces.

If it does not survive, then the last we will view of it will be on Thursday morning, as special, Sun-directed telescopes film its fiery death-plunge.

However, Comet ISON could just as well survive, and if it does, it will capture world attention. When ISON passes from behind the Sun late Thursday or early Friday for most people, it will be brighter than it has ever been. Within a matter of days, perhaps as late as December 5, it will finally appear distant enough from the Sun and bright enough so that casual observers will look up and wonder, "what's that?"

Comet ISON will blaze brightly in the morning sky now, climbing northward and into the evening sky with each passing night. Eventually, it will pass over the north pole around Christmas before finally cooling and fading out of view by early January.

By spring, it will be visible only to large telescopes, and it will fade from all view, forever, as it is flung into deep space, never to return again.

Astronomers believe Comet ISON is an object from the Oort cloud, a halo of comets surrounding the Solar System about 100,000 AU from the Sun. That's 100,000 times the average distance between the Earth and the Sun. It likely has taken Comet ISON one million years to travel that distance, now to arrive on Thursday.

On its outward journey, the tiny object will be traveling so fast that it will actually escape the Solar System, assuming it survives its close approach to the Sun.

Two weeks ago, ISON suddenly brightened, causing astronomers to speculate that it was already be breaking up. However, close observations with the Hubble Space Telescope suggests that remains intact, still in one piece.

So the houselights have dimmed; it's time to take your seats. Late Thursday, the curtain will rise on one of the rarest and greatest spectacles staged by nature. Enjoy the show!

A birth foretold: click here to learn more!

---


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


2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for August 2014
Refugees:
That refugees, forced by violence to abandon their homes, may find a generous welcome and the protection of their rights.
Oceania: That Christians in Oceania may joyfully announce the faith to all the people of that region.



Comments


More Technology

A confident Ballmer leaves Microsoft 'completely' to run the Clippers Watch

Image of Steve Ballmer has left all positions of authority at Microsoft, leaving behind the tech giant to run the Los Angeles Clippers, for which Ballmer paid a record $2 billion.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Eight months after he ended his role as Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer resigned from Microsoft's board, a move that ends more than three decades of direct involvement in the world's largest software maker. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The 58-year-old, who ... continue reading


Why did NASA turn the cameras off? Live feed from Space Station shows UFO, NASA cuts the feed Watch

Image of Is this evidence of a UFO? Or perhaps just venting gasses or debris from the ISS?

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Fans of the International Space Station got an eyeful recently when an alleged UFO appeared on NASA's live feed from the station. Curiously, the feed was interrupted as soon as the object appeared fueling rumors that NASA is engaged in a cover-up. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


Have you been hacked? New report says millions of personal information has been stolen Watch

Image of Russian hackers recently gathered customer individuals from more than 420,000 websites.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Russian hackers gathered information from over 420,000 websites, both smaller sites and "household name" sites, in an attempt to gather passwords to send out spam. LOS ANGLES, CA (Catholic Online) - Hold Security, a Milwaukee-based firm, discovered the theft but ... continue reading


ROSETTA: After 10 long years - 'We're in orbit!' Watch

Image of Exciting new images, taken from just 80 miles away shows boulders, craters and steep cliffs.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

All things come to those who wait. "After 10 years, five months and four days travelling towards our destination, looping around the sun five times, we are delighted to announce finally 'we are here,'" Jean-Jacques Dordain, ESA's Director General, said in a ... continue reading


Xiaomi overtakes Samsung as leading Smartphone maker Watch

Image of Xiaomi has evolved from a niche player in China to a major force in its home market.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

How do you pronounce Xiaomi? Think of "show me," and then pronounce the first syllable as if it was in "shower." While Xiaomi in English translates as "little rice," there's nothing little about this Chinese Smartphone manufacturer - Xiaomi has knocked South ... continue reading


Next Mars rover will try to create oxygen on planet's surface Watch

Image of Being able to produce oxygen could help with that ambition, since transporting fuel is heavy and expensive. Other NASA spacecraft can already produce oxygen from CO2.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The next Martian rover that NASA sends to the red planet will attempt to make oxygen on the surface when it lands there in 2021. In addition, the rover will carry seven scientific projects, aimed at paving the way for future manned missions, seeking evidence of ... continue reading


Astronomers discover a 'magnifying glass' in space that acts like a time machine Watch

Image of Images which reveal the galaxies in question. They may look like pixels, however by examining light in fine detail with sensitive instruments astronomers can reveal a lot of basic knowledge about the objects.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Astronomers have discovered a virtual magnifying glass in space that allows them to look farther back in time than they normally can, to an age when the universe was young and contained less mysterious dark matter. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Astronomers ... continue reading


Amazing sight beheld on Saturn's moon: More than 100 geysers spewing forth Watch

Image of NASA's Cassini spacecraft first spotted the geysers as plumes in 2005.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The universe has offered up many amazing sights over the past years, but the most recent one seems to take it all. At least 101 geysers have been discovered erupting on Saturn's frozen moon Enceladus. This find suggests that it may be possible for liquid water ... continue reading


Here are 12 amazing images of outer space. Number 6 is our favorite! Watch

Image of Nebulae are created when great stars explode, scattering their guts across space where they form new stars and solar systems.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

There are wondrous sights in the heavens above! Space is packed with treasures beyond imagination. While we can see many things with just our eyes alone, instruments like the Hubble Space Telescope have given us some incredible close-ups packed with amazing detail. ... continue reading


Astronomers crack mystery of 'transformer' star Watch

Image of The mysterious star switches between two states of energy output, baffling scientists -- until now.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Astronomers have discovered a star that seems to vary and vanish in a surprising fashion. They mystery may now have been solved. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Scientists observing a pulsar have been surprised to notice the star disappear and reappear in their ... 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 37:1-14
1 The hand of Yahweh was on me; he carried me away by ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 107:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9
2 So let them say whom Yahweh redeemed, whom he ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 22:34-40
34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for August 22nd, 2014 Image

St. Andrew the Scot
August 22: Archdeacon and companion of St. Donatus. Andrew and his sister, ... 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