Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

12/2/2013 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Next year promises to be good for skywatchers.

On Thanksgiving morning, I joined tens of thousands of others on a live Google+ Hangout to watch Comet ISON zip past the Sun. After waiting fifteen months, the final, most dangerous part of the journey had arrived. Then, in the space of minutes-disaster. Yet, there is good news.

An epic meteor shower in 2014 could console those of us mourning the loss of Comet ISON.

An epic meteor shower in 2014 could console those of us mourning the loss of Comet ISON.

Highlights

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

12/2/2013 (1 year ago)

Published in Technology

Keywords: Comet ISON, cry, shower, meteor, rocket, moon, 2014


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Comet ISON defied all predictions. When discovered beyond the orbit of Jupiter, it was suggested that it could become the comet of the century, outshining the full moon in broad daylight.

Then, the comet brightened more slowly than predicted. Enthusiasm tempered, but remained high. We learned the comet was of an exceptionally rare variety and that it glowed green rather than white. Weeks before perihelion, it brightened dramatically, almost to naked-eye visibility. Then it dimmed a bit. Then it flared up to naked-eye levels, but approached the sun in the morning sky, making it harder to see.

Finally, just 12 hours before perihelion, ISON flared dramatically. What we know now is that final brightening was the beginning of the end for ISON.

I heard the news live from Philip Plait, also known as the "Bad Astronomer" on Slate.com.  Plait shared the latest processed image from the SOHO satellite, a device in space, pointed at the Sun. Instead of a bright dot followed by a diffuse tail, as a comet should appear, we saw a broad, bright streak, without a head.

The death of Comet ISON captured in this time-lapse image taken by the SOHO satellite.

The death of Comet ISON captured in this time-lapse image taken by the SOHO satellite.


In the minutes that followed the professional consensus came in. Like Icarus, Comet ISON had flown too close to the Sun and broke up. Public disappointment was deep. Instead of a Christmas skyshow, we would be treated now to nothing.

Although later in the day a fragment of the comet was spotted, that too quickly faded, a final remnant of the comet turned to dust by the heat and tidal power of the Sun. Today, comet ISON is simply no more, its ashes scattered to the solar wind.

For astronomers, the breakup was actually a bonus. By studying the light reflected from the particles of dust, blown out from the inside of the busted nucleus, they can gather important data about what the comet was made of, which helps them learn about how our Solar System may have formed.

Yet, the rest of us, ready with merely our eyes or a pair of binoculars, were heartily disappointed. For myself, it felt like the unexpected, last-minute cancellation of a long-anticipated pleasure trip.

In my despair, I began searching for other sky-events worth anticipating. Off the top of my head, I was only aware of disappointment. Even the peak of the current solar cycle, which should have created geomagnetic storms and displays of the northern lights at lower latitudes, at least once, has proven disappointing. What's next?

There's a few things worth paying attention to in the year to come. Notably, the arrival of an enigmatic meteor shower that could have the capability of outperforming anything many people have seen in living memory.

On May 24, 2014, Earth will pass through a very dense stream of dust in space. As comets orbit the Sun, they leave behind trails of dust that continue orbiting in their trail, much like a virtual river of dust in space. When Earth passes through these trails, we get meteor showers. These showers can be predicted in advance and often happen year-after-year.

Next year, we will encounter an entirely new, and fresh trail in space. Particles shed by Comet 209P/LINEAR could create a "meteor storm" particularly for people in North America, who are best situated to view the shower.

Astronomers, if their predictions are accurate, think the meteor shower could create a storm with as many as 100-1,000 meteors per hour. Typically, most meteor showers are merely a few dozen or more per hour in intensity.

This prediction is being made by several astronomers in different countries, working independently of one another.

Another event will be much more mundane, from an Earthly perspective, but it too should make headlines. In September 2014, the Orion space capsule will be launched on its maiden test flight. The capsule will be unmanned but will represent the first test of a craft capable of returning astronauts to the Moon. Over the coming years further test flights are scheduled and the next moon landing could happen in the early 2020s.

The Space Launch System rocket will carry the Orion capsule into space for the first time in 2014. L

The Space Launch System rocket will carry the Orion capsule into space for the first time in 2014. Later, the system will fly humans back to the moon.


The September launch will be a major news event and will be televised.

The loss of Comet ISON gives astronomers plenty to study. For the rest of us looking forward to amazing sights in the nighttime sky, there will be at least one or more extraordinary events in 2014.

So don't cry for Comet ISON.

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 March 2015
Universal:
Scientists: That those involved in scientific research may serve the well-being of the whole human person.
Evangelization: Contribution of women: That the unique contribution of women to the life of the Church may be recognized always.


Rosaries, Crosses, Prayer Cards and more... by Catholic Shopping .com


Comments


More Technology

Is Facebook changing? Facebook plans to conquer the virtual world this year Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Facebook's chief technology officer, Mike Schroepfer promised that the Virtual Reality (VR) program will come into life within the year. The Oculus headset, which was on their top secret list before, was announced to be available soon, but the exact release date is not ... continue reading


Smartphones and Internet may be putting your child's mental health in jeopardy Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil

The number of young people being admitted for mental treatments since 2010 has rapidly increased. Julie Lynn Evans, a psychotherapist for over 25 years now, is grateful for the additional funding being sent into mental health services, but she believes the dilemma ... continue reading


Stealth fighter jets in U.S. set to get massive upgrades Watch

Image of Pentagon officials have stressed the importance of developing the new long-range strike bomber calling it critical to national security and nuclear deterrence.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A mainstay of United States military defense, stealth bombers have been around since the Seventies. The Air Force's aging fleet is now ready for an expensive makeover. The Pentagon intends to develop a high-priority, super-classified, next-generation bomber. ... continue reading


Will you say 'hello' to Barbie? Mattel's new Barbie doll is 'creeping out' parents, raising concerns of privacy Watch

Image of Hello Barbie will allow its owner to carry on a conversation through recorded audio and WiFi.

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Classic toy doll, Barbie, has been reinvented after the makers, Mattel received numerous requests for a Barbie doll that kids can talk to, according to a spokesperson of the toy company. Mattel's response is WiFi connected "Hello Barbie" that comes with an installed ... continue reading


Scientists find way to eliminate inherited diseases with genetically modified human eggs Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

New gene-editing techniques are being improved and could soon eliminate inherited diseases from future generations by modifying the DNA of human egg cells. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Although the idea of editing chromosomes in human eggs or sperm is feared, ... continue reading


Hidden spy cameras discovered at United States post office, installation confirmed by USPIS Watch

Image of freerepublic.com

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A hidden camera disappeared just after an hour of being discovered at a Denver local post office, Fox31 Denver reported. People became alarmed that they are being watched as they drop-off their mails with the possibility of the camera collecting their facial features ... continue reading


Your selfie can now be seen by millions: Charity campaign puts selfies on billboards for donations Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

By participating in the Ultimate Selfie Campaign (#ultimateselfiecampaign), people can now have millions of people across the United States see their selfie or favorite photo on digital billboards, while helping charities with a $25 donation. The project was an ... continue reading


BIG, BIG things predicated on Apple's 'Smartwatch' Watch

Image of A solid gold version aimed at the very rich will tarnish a brand that promises

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

While Apple remains unusually successful, there are already naysayers lining up to predict that the company's forthcoming "Smartwatch" will be a flop. Many details about the new gadget remain under wraps. Questions remain about the watch's price, the battery ... continue reading


Let there be light: New urine-powered light bulbs bring light to refugee camps Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

"Pee Power" is what the people are calling this strange innovation. British students and researchers, from the University of the West of England and the OxFam global aid agency, have invented a mode in which light bulbs can be powered by urine. The University has ... continue reading


Zombie Apocalypse: Safest plan is to 'head for the hills,' according to experts Watch

Image of In the event of a zombie apocalypse, cities would fall quickly. However, it would take weeks for zombies to penetrate into less densely populated areas.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In the event the dead return to life and begin to cannibalize the living, turning them into hordes of the shuffling undead, theoretically - there would be few options. Researchers at Cornell University offer a practical bit of advice should this happen - head ... 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, Isaiah 50:4-7
4 Lord Yahweh has given me a disciple's tongue, for ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 22:8-9, 17-18, 19-20, 23-24
8 'He trusted himself to Yahweh, let Yahweh set him ... Read More

Gospel, Mark 15:1-39
1 First thing in the morning, the chief priests, ... Read More

Reading 2, Philippians 2:6-11
6 Who, being in the form of God, did not count ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for March 29th, 2015 Image

St. Berthold
March 29: Considered by some historians to be the founder of the Carmelite ... 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