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.

Article 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 calls for your 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women:
That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lord’s invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.



Comments


More Technology

A NEW EARTH? Astronomers discover remarkably similar planet to our own Watch

Image of The Goldilocks zone, or habitable zone, is the belt around a star where temperatures are ideal for liquid water to pool on a planet's surface.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Astronomers have announced that they have found a planet that is remarkably similar to Earth. Called Kepler-186f, the planet 1.1 times the size of Earth orbiting a star - "only" 490 light years away. Kepler-186f is the first planet discovered with the right ... continue reading


EYES TO THE HEAVENS: Astronomers say there may be a 'new Saturn moon' Watch

Image of The disturbance in the edge of the ring is 20 percent brighter than its surroundings and about 750 miles long and six miles wide.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

All eyes are on the heavens as astronomers theorize that another moon for the ringed planet of Saturn may be on its way. If the heavenly body in the rings of Saturn is confirmed, it would make for the planet's 63rd moon. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - ... continue reading


IS THE SECOND COMING NIGH? Four blood moons this year all occur on Jewish holidays Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

As climate change wreaks havoc worldwide, and relations between the U.S. and Russia reach a low point over Ukraine, some Christians say that the phenomenon of the "Blood moon" may mean that Christ's return is rapidly approaching. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic ... continue reading


Will Alibaba devour Facebook? China's massive Alibaba is coming to conquer the United States Watch

Image of Yahoo's dominance has since dwindled as Alibaba has since grown into a global powerhouse.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Ali Baba for those in the west usually means the storybook leader of a gang of fearless, 40 thieves. But this will soon change. A massive e-commerce site from China, Alibaba, with revenue larger than Amazon and eBay combined has decided to go public in the ... continue reading


Drone images reveal more about mysterious buried village in New Mexico Watch

Image of Drone images have captured fascinating new details about a buried Native American village in New Mexico.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Drone images have captured fascinating new details about a buried Native American village in New Mexico. Thermal images captured by the small drone allowed archaeologists to peer under the surface of the desert floor, revealing never-before-seen structures. LOS ... continue reading


New 'Star Wars' gun fires shells seven times the speed of sound through concrete -- 100 miles away Watch

Image of The rail gun will be mounted on high-speed vessel the USNS Millinocket for sea trials in 2016.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A futuristic lethal new weapon capable of firing a shell at seven times the speed of sound has since been successfully tested on land. Conjuring up images of iconic sci-fi villains as Darth Vader, researchers have called the new rail gun as being of 'Star Wars' ... continue reading


KETTLE CALLING THE POT BLACK? Internet search engines exhibiting double standards Watch

Image of An old cliche -- that bears repeating --

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Certain cliché sayings come to mind: The kettle calling the pot black, having one's cake and eating it too . Google, along with Facebook and Yahoo have come down hard on the Obama administration for information gathering - but NOW don't want their ... continue reading


Scientists discover massive asteroid hit Earth so hard that oceans evaporated Watch

Image of Earth was struck several times by massive asteroids billions of years ago.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Scientists from Stanford University say they have found evidence of another cataclysmic cosmic collision between Earth and another asteroid billions of years ago. This asteroid, they say, was so large it punched a hole in the Earth's crust and caused earthquakes around ... continue reading


Why is NASA rejecting definitive proof of life on Mars? Watch

Image of Curiosity recently captures this image that shows light on the ground on Mars. NASA thinks it's just a glint off rock or some other similar anomaly.

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Curiosity rover has photographed what appears to be light emanating from the ground on Mars. UFO and alien life enthusiasts as well as conspiracy theorists have all claimed the light is evidence of life on the Red Planet. NASA however, is not so sure. LOS ANGELES, ... continue reading


HANG ON TOTO! Astronomers calculate the speed of the Universe's expansion Watch

Image of Hang on! The universe is expanding at 1 percent per 44 million years, which is fast if you consider the size of the universe is at least 46 billion years in radius!

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Hold on to your hat, Toto, we're about to leave Kansas. Astronomers say they have calculated the expansion rate of the universe and their discovery is very surprising. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Astronomers have long been interested in measuring the expansion ... 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, Genesis 1:1--2:2
1 In the beginning God created heaven and ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 16:5, 8, 9-10, 11
5 My birthright, my cup is Yahweh; you, you alone, ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 28:1-10
1 After the Sabbath, and towards dawn on the first ... Read More

Reading 2, Genesis 22:1-18
1 It happened some time later that God put Abraham to ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for April 19th, 2014 Image

St. Alphege
April 19: Archbishop and "the First Martyr of Canterbury." He was born in ... 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