Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

11/25/2013 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (

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.


By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (

11/25/2013 (1 year 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'

Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for October 2015
That human trafficking, the modern form of slavery, may be eradicated.
Evangelization: That with a missionary spirit the Christian communities of Asia may announce the Gospel to those who are still awaiting it.


More Technology

'Phubbing,' ignoring friends while talking on cell phones leads to strained relationships Watch

Image of Digital Trends defines phubbing as

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In the digital age, the new mantra should be, "The most important in the world - is the one that I am with." "Phubbing," the rude practice of taking cell phone calls while ignoring the people near you is described as being an epidemic problem in the United ... continue reading

Police track criminals with planted GPS devices Watch

Image of


It has been months since police began tracking down a single man in a hoodie with a black ski mask caught holding up one gas station after another. It took authorities a bit of time before they solved a Long Island robbery spree, as the grainy surveillance footage was ... continue reading

Futurist predicts that robots will reside in human brains by 2030 Watch

Image of Futurist and lecturer Ray Kurzweil foresees the day when the human race will transform following  the implantation of nanobots into our brains, connecting us to the Internet.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Futurist and lecturer Ray Kurzweil foresees the day when the human race will transform with the help of nanobots, which will be implanted into our brains to connect us to the Internet. Kurzweil welcomes the day, which he predicts will be in the year 2030. While he is ... continue reading

NASA enlists public help in solving the mystery of Ceres Watch

Image of

By Hannah Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Scientists from NASA are seeking answers for the mysteries of moon-like dwarf planet Ceres. On Wednesday, the agency announced they are accepting suggestions from the public that they report would be taken "very seriously." LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - After ... continue reading

Breakthrough for short-term memory loss: Brain implant can now encode human memories Watch

Image of Much, if not all human experience resides in the memory. Now, an implant that encodes human memory is giving new hope to Alzheimer's patients and wounded soldiers who have lost their short-term memories.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Much, if not all human experience resides in the memory. Now, an implant that encodes human memory is giving new hope to Alzheimer's patients and wounded soldiers who have lost their short-term memories. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Developed at the ... continue reading

Scammers take advantage of Facebook dislike button Watch

Image of


Online scams are still prevalent, especially with the steady growth of new users. Social media giant Facebook gets new users every single day. However, novice users can pose dangers to themselves and to their Facebook friends by calling for "dislike" button scams. ... continue reading

Breast cancer without chemotherapy? Watch

Image of Chemotherapy may no longer be needed in early-stage breast cancer patients (OneBode).

By Kenya Sinclair (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A major study's results show promise for a gene-activity test that gauges early-stage breast cancer patients' risks. The test can tell who will benefit from chemotherapy treatment and who will not. Those who do not require chemotherapy are not negatively affected by ... continue reading

Good News, Bad News! California scientists discover water --on Mars Watch

Image of Jaded Californians are already having fun with the announcement.

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The good news? Scientists in California have found water! The bad news? It's on Mars. Scientists from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena California have announced through NASA, the finding of recent water flows on Mars, demonstrating the planet still has liquid ... continue reading

Apple watch credited for saving teen's life Watch

Image of Paul Houle was saved by his Apple watch.


A Cape Cod, Massachusetts high school senior almost ran out of luck when he felt ill after a football practice last week. He experienced back and chest pains long after football practices ended and his heart rate seemed irregular. It was then the teen checked his pulse ... continue reading

Will NASA announcement declare LIFE ON MARS? Watch

Image of Some think that the agency could announce that it has discovered microbial life on Earth's near neighbor -- or evidence of flowing water.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Excitement is running high - the National Aeronautic Space Agency or NASA is planning to make a major announcement about the red planet mars. Speculation is that scientists will proclaim either the discovery of life - or earlier evidence of life on Mars. LOS ... continue reading

All Technology News


Newsletter Sign Up icon

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

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Jonah 3:1-10
1 The word of Yahweh was addressed to Jonah a second ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 130:1-2, 3-4, 7-8
1 [Song of Ascents] From the depths I call to you, ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 10:38-42
38 In the course of their journey he came to a ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 6th, 2015 Image

St. Bruno
October 6: Bruno was born in Cologne of the prominent Hartenfaust family. ... Read More