STEREO’s View of ISON

Here’s a short video made from images taken by the Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO – A). The video was made over a five day period from 20 to 25 November 2013 (Image Credit: NASA/STEREO).

ISON is heading towards perihelion, the point in the orbit where it is closest to the sun as it passes around. That distance is going to be about 0.013 AU on 28 November.

ISON is also in the region where, if it is going to break up the next few days is when it is going to happen. I read somewhere ISON needs to be around 200 meters in diameter to survive and current estimates has it between 500 meters and 1.2 km so my fingers are crossed it will make it around and give us a nice show on the way out.

You will notice another object crossing ISON’s path about the time ISON is in line with Mercury. That is another comet, Comet Enke.

See this and other versions leading up to this video here.

ISON From the Ground

ISON this week. Image credit: NASA/MSFC/MEO/Cameron McCarty

ISON this week. Image credit: NASA/MSFC/MEO/Cameron McCarty

Here’s a ground based image of comet ISON taken on 19 November by the Marshall Space Flight Center’s 20-inch (508 mm) in New Mexico.

My own efforts have been thwarted by cloudy skies thanks mostly to the mountain range to the east, plus they block a good bit of the lower angle look to the horizon. Once the comet goes around the sun, another mountain range will come into play (the Adirondacks of New York) but they are further away and are not as much of an issue. The snow and bad weather promised this week will pass and the first week of December hopefully will be a good one.

Larger versions available here.

ISON Heading for Sun

Comet ISON evolving. Credit: Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS)

Comet ISON evolving. Credit: Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS)

ISON has showing signs of activity lately, not that I would know thanks to poor skies, but in this excellent image from the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research seems to confirm what I’ve been reading.

Now the question becomes: will ISON survive the trip around the sun which will be happening next week? I know I took issue with everyone that was predicting ISON’s demise months ago and I still do. The fact is simply even the experts do not know what is going to happen.

ISON if you didn’t know is considered a sungrazing comet.  Here’s a video explaining sungrazers.

I of course want the comet to survive, if it does it should be fairly easy to see. Imagine this too, should it survive ISON will most likely be flung out of the solar system never to return.

Here’s the press release from MPS:

One or more fragments may have detached from comet ISON in the past days, as two wing-shaped features in the comet’s atmosphere suggest.

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS) in Germany and the Wendelstein Observatory of the Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich (Germany) discovered these features in images taken at the end of last week. The fragmentation may offer an explanation for the comet’s recent outburst of activity.

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Hubble’s ISON Update

Hubble's look at ISON.  Click for larger. Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

Hubble’s look at ISON. Click for larger. Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

The impending ISON breakup that seems to be predicted on certain Internet sites is a FAIL so far. Not to say it won’t happen, just so far it hasn’t happened.

Comet ISON has brightened by a half a magnitude since Monday’s post, it has broken the mag 9 mark and is now 8.99 according to Stellarium and The Sky program I use. I am going to try and get a small scope on it this weekend. If I have REALLY good weather I might try using the big scope I think it is high enough to see. I have a problem in that direction due to trees, normally not too much of an issue because I can wait, but this is a close call with sunrise.

From Hubblesite:

A new image of the sunward plunging Comet ISON suggests that the comet is intact despite some predictions that the fragile icy nucleus might disintegrate as the Sun warms it. The comet will pass closest to the Sun on November 28.

In this NASA Hubble Space Telescope image taken on October 9, the comet’s solid nucleus is unresolved because it is so small. If the nucleus broke apart then Hubble would have likely seen evidence for multiple fragments.

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Comet ISON Has Company

Newly discovered Comet C/2013 R1 Lovejoy.  Credit: Michael Jaeger

Newly discovered Comet C/2013 R1 Lovejoy. Credit: Michael Jaeger

Well how about this? Comet ISON will have company in the sky in the form of another comet!

This new comet is the just discovered C/2013 R1 Lovejoy. The discovery was announced on September 9 after a couple of nights of observations (photographic) by discoverer Terry Lovejoy in Australia. This is Lovejoy’s fourth discovery, very good work.

Right now the comet is near the constellation of Orion but it is only a magnitude 14 to 14.5 so it’s going to take a fairly large backyard scope, better than about 200 mm or so. In fact Lovejoy found this one with a 200 mm (8-inch) scope and did that photographically. I think I’d need to use a CCD with my 250mm (10-inch) scope too. A magnitude 14 comet isn’t really like a mag 14 star, the light is more diffuse.

The best guess for eventual brightening for this particular Lovejoy comet is up to about a mag 8, so it could be a binocular target in the right location in November but a small scope would be better – time will tell.

I’ll keep you posted. Actually tomorrow I will point you to some free software where you can enter the comet data and keep an eye on where it is in the sky and a whole lot more.

The photo above was taken on 10 September by Michael Jaeger, no wonder it is so good, Jaeger is exceptionally adept at astrophotography. The streak you see to the right of the comet is a geostationary satellite.

ISON and the Mars Flyby

A nice informative video from Science@NASA talking about the upcoming flyby of Mars from Comet ISON. One of the better ones out there so far.

I wonder that the HiRISE camera on the MRO will be able to see, nothing mentioned on the MRO site so far concerning very recent viewing.

Source

Hubblesite’s ISON Blog

A fantastic image of ISON in April just released taken by Hubble.  Click for larger. Image credit NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

A fantastic image of ISON in April just released taken by Hubble. Click for larger. Image credit NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

Have a look at this Hubble image of ISON; wow it’s amazing on so many levels, it’s destined to be on my desktop.

The internet conspiracy activity is beginning to blossom. LOL. I’ve also gotten emails trying to explain how and why ISON is in the process of fizzling out to be a non-event later this year.

I’m not going to bite at least until I hear it from a reputable source like the new Hubblesite ISONblog which promises a great source of current data about ISON over time.

Here’s part of what Hubblesite has to say about this image and if you want larger versions of it, perhaps for your desktops click here:

In this Hubble Space Telescope composite image taken in April 2013, the sun-approaching Comet ISON floats against a seemingly infinite backdrop of numerous galaxies and a handful of foreground stars. The icy visitor, with its long gossamer tail, appears to be swimming like a tadpole through a deep pond of celestial wonders.

Spitzer and Comet ISON

The Spitzer Space Telescope examines comet ISON. Click for larger. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/JHUAPL/UCF

The Spitzer Space Telescope examines comet ISON. Click for larger. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/JHUAPL/UCF

The beginning of a obseving campaign of our next Great Comet, ISON and what an observing campaign it should be considering the suite of instruments available nowadays.

The press release from NASA/JPL:

These images from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope of C/2012 S1 (Comet ISON) were taken on June 13, when ISON was 310 million miles (about 500 million kilometers) from the sun. The images were taken with the telescope’s infrared array camera at two different near-infrared wavelengths, 3.6 and 4.5 microns (the representational colors shown were selected to enhance visibility). The 3.6-micron image on the left shows a tail of fine rocky dust issuing from the comet and blown back by the pressure of sunlight as the comet speeds towards the sun (the tail points away from the sun). The image on the right side shows the 4.5-micron image with the 3.6-micron image information (dust) removed, and reveals a very different round structure — the first detection of a neutral gas atmosphere surrounding ISON. In this case, it is most likely created by carbon dioxide that is “fizzing” from the surface of the comet at a rate of about 2.2 million pounds (1 million kilograms) a day.

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