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Old 03-15-2013, 11:30 PM   #41
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So, you're not "Off on a Comet?"
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Old 03-16-2013, 10:46 PM   #42
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Tried to see it three nights running in Tucson. Couldn't see it.
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Old 03-16-2013, 11:22 PM   #43
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Later this year there will be ISON.
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Old 03-16-2013, 11:47 PM   #44
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Later this year there will be ISON.
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Old 03-17-2013, 08:24 PM   #45
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I missed Pan-STARRS here in So Ca.

I'm hoping for better luck with ISON. Ideally, I'll be able to go up with my brother and his friends to Mt. Wilson when the big boys bring out the telescopes.
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Old 11-18-2013, 03:54 PM   #46
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Okay, so, over the last couple of months things weren't looking so good for ISON. It was brightening, but at a much slower rate than hoped for, suggesting it might not be as spectacularly bright as first expected.

That all changed just a few days ago, when suddenly it began to flare up much more brightly! ISON is now naked-eye visible, rising in the east about two hours-ish before sunrise. It will be getting a little closer to the Sun each day and will eventually be too close to it to see, so have a look now while there's a good view and enough distance. It's bright enough to see on its own, but as always some binoculars or a scope of course will enhance your viewing pleasure.

Comet ISON will reach perihelion (its closest distance to the Sun) on the 28th. It will get close enough that destruction is a possibility; however, if it survives, it will move further and further away and eventually should become visible again - only after sunset at that time. Bear in mind though that comets grow dimmer the further they get from the Sun, so we don't know how nice it will look by the time it's far enough from the Sun to see again - hopefully it will still be bright enough to make for some nice viewing.

Here's a nice closeup of ISON taken a couple days ago with a scope:



ETA: That's not a shot from a bumped camera - the comet actually does have all those different tails and tendrils right now. It's SO awesome.
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Old 11-19-2013, 12:36 AM   #47
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According to this article, ISON's tail, which is presently 10 million miles long, stretches 7 degrees across the sky; to put that in perspective, the full moon is only 1/2 a degree wide. The comet's tail is 14 times longer than the width of the full moon! Unfortunately, most of it is so faint that it can't be seen with the naked eye. Check out this lovely time exposure that reveals the whole thing:


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Old 11-26-2013, 03:09 PM   #48
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Reports from observatories over the weekend are saying ISON has been getting quickly and considerably dimmer, rather than brighter as expected while it approaches the Sun. Reports of increased dust emissions during the same time period suggest that Comet ISON's nucleus might be disrupted, with still two days to go until its closest approach on Thanksgiving.

If you still have hope, you can watch ISON's Sun encounter at this website, which will have satellite feeds beginning shortly after noon ET on the 28th. However, there's a decent chance that ISON is history.
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Old 11-26-2013, 04:12 PM   #49
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Reports from observatories over the weekend are saying ISON has been getting quickly and considerably dimmer, rather than brighter as expected while it approaches the Sun. Reports of increased dust emissions during the same time period suggest that Comet ISON's nucleus might be disrupted, with still two days to go until its closest approach on Thanksgiving.

If you still have hope, you can watch ISON's Sun encounter at this website, which will have satellite feeds beginning shortly after noon ET on the 28th. However, there's a decent chance that ISON is history.


So in effect ISON will be dissolving as it approaches us tomorrow?

Are we about to be glitter-bombed????
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Old 11-26-2013, 06:01 PM   #50
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No no, ISON won't be approaching us at all. Right now it's well past our orbit headed inbound for the Sun; its path takes it within a few hundred thousand km of the Sun and then it slingshots away - "up" relative to the plane of the solar system; so as it comes around the other side of the Sun we will see it moving away day by day in the general direction of Polaris.

That closest approach point to the Sun will be on Thanksgiving Day. But, the evidence strongly suggests the comet may have already dissolved. In which case the Sun is about to be glitter-bombed.
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Old 11-26-2013, 11:21 PM   #51
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The closest it will get to us is on Boxing Day, when it will be almost due north, very close to the North Star, Polaris.

But yeah, it does look like ISON might be toast. I hope not; I never got a chance to see it.

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Old 11-27-2013, 01:05 PM   #52
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Don't write it off just yet. The comet or its remnants are now visible from the LASCO camera!

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Old 11-27-2013, 03:08 PM   #53
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One of the things I think is cool about comets in general and ISON in particular is the way in which the head of the comet expands when the Sun heats it. The nucleus of a comet is actually very much like an asteroid, but with a casing of frozen gases. Forget Bruce Willis romping around on that big rock in "Armageddon." This is the real thing: Scientists are estimating that the rocky nucleus of Comet ISON is only about two miles wide. However, the coma (Latin for "hair"), the expanded "atmosphere" of the comet which is formed of gases that are sublimating from the frozen matter in the head, is estimated to be 80,000 miles across -- about ten times the diameter of the Earth.


Nucleus of Comet 103P/Hartley with jets streaming out; photography by a visiting space probe. The nucleus is about 2 km in length.

This video shows ISON approaching the Sun from the lower right on November 27. This was taken by the SOHO solar observation spacecraft.

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Old 11-27-2013, 09:16 PM   #54
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In the clip that starts at 0:38 in that video, you can see what looks like another, smaller comet ahead of ISON.

That's little Comet Encke, a periodic comet that is actually a bit famous. It's a very old comet; but its period is 3 years - the shortest known orbit of any comet, and it only gets just a little further away than the orbit of Mars before it comes back to visit the Sun. I call it "little" Comet Encke, but it's about 4.8km wide - in the neighborhood of ISON; but not as bright by virtue of its age.
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Old 11-27-2013, 10:03 PM   #55
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Like your favorite jeans that you like to wear every few days. Encke is pretty worn and faded. With it swinging around the sun roughly every 3 years and 4 months, I'm amazed it hasn't faded into nothing but cosmic debris long ago.

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Old 11-27-2013, 10:11 PM   #56
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ISON, on the other hand, is beginning to brighten once again, suggesting that the nucleus isn't disrupted. Perhaps enough ice had sublimated away that a large chunk of dust and debris blasted away from the nucleus in a big cloud, dimming it for a few days, and now it's all gone and some new layers of ice are beginning to heat up and shine.
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Old 11-28-2013, 12:00 AM   #57
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I haven't found any mention of what the object between Mercury and the Earth starting at about 4 seconds and continuing at a steeper angle than ISON. Anyone know what it is?

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Old 11-28-2013, 12:04 AM   #58
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Not offhand. It's very likely that it's an asteroid, I'd say.

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Old 11-28-2013, 12:08 AM   #59
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I haven't found any mention of what the object between Mercury and the Earth starting at about 4 seconds and continuing at a steeper angle than ISON. Anyone know what it is?
I could be wrong, but I think... this:

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In the clip that starts at 0:38 in that video, you can see what looks like another, smaller comet ahead of ISON.

That's little Comet Encke, a periodic comet that is actually a bit famous. It's a very old comet; but its period is 3 years - the shortest known orbit of any comet, and it only gets just a little further away than the orbit of Mars before it comes back to visit the Sun. I call it "little" Comet Encke, but it's about 4.8km wide - in the neighborhood of ISON; but not as bright by virtue of its age.
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Old 11-28-2013, 12:21 AM   #60
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I think you may be right. I didn't think it was at first glance because there didn't seem to be a tail, but in the other video I posted earlier (the blue one) you can see Encke starting at about :38 and while you can see that it has a tail, it isn't real prominent. Good call.

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Old 11-28-2013, 10:07 AM   #61
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Old 11-28-2013, 10:45 AM   #62
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Last time on the COMET ISON SHOW:

Uh oh! Fuzzy frozen frostball streaks straight for the Sun!



Space cameras catch comet heading for a hot date with Helios!



Can icy ISON brave the blistering barrage of searing solar radiation and survive, or is it destined for deadly doom? Find out on today's episode!!!
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Old 11-28-2013, 01:13 PM   #63
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Watch NASA's live Google+ stream:

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Old 11-28-2013, 02:11 PM   #64
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ISON is not showing up in the SDO sun imagery at any wavelength. The going theory at the moment is that ISON is an ex-comet; but we'll see what happens...
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Old 11-28-2013, 02:20 PM   #65
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Old 11-28-2013, 02:35 PM   #66
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It could just be too dim to show up through all the bright material in the Sun's corona. When Comet Lovejoy made it through the Sun, it was quite dim indeed - although we did see something.

The comet and its tail were very bright on wider-angle cameras like LASCO and STEREO. Let's wait and see if the tail or some remnant starts to show up on those cameras leaving the Sun.
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Old 11-28-2013, 02:39 PM   #67
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Old 11-28-2013, 03:52 PM   #68
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Hold on a second....



That looks somewhat interesting now, doesn't it?
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Old 11-28-2013, 04:15 PM   #69
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There is definitely something there. But is it a comet, or is it leftover bits of comet?

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Old 11-28-2013, 08:50 PM   #70
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Hours later and the situation with ISON is still fuzzy. Here's what's known for certain: it either survived, or it didn't. Or kinda both. Just to clear things up.

The thing is, it seems there is no longer any solid nucleus; in the images, the head of the comet is really too fuzzy and indistinct (more so than usual) for there to be a nucleus still there. But there is some kind of enduring mass of some kind there, emitting a tail at least similar to a typical comet tail. And it looks reasonably bright on the wide-angle LASCO camera, whose FOV it's now moved into - although nowhere near as bright as ISON was in that same camera yesterday. It will take some time for scientists to come to a consensus about exactly what is going on. We've seen lots of sungrazing comets get eaten by the Sun before; but AFIAK we've never seen anything quite like this emerge in the aftermath.

tl;dr - Dear ISON, WTH?
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Old 11-29-2013, 09:42 AM   #71
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Old 11-29-2013, 11:28 AM   #72
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There's this thing called Netflix. Maybe you've heard of it.

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Old 11-29-2013, 11:29 AM   #73
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Old 11-29-2013, 08:13 PM   #74
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Old 11-30-2013, 02:42 AM   #75
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I've never seen 2001:A Space Odyssey.













I'm sorry.
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Old 11-30-2013, 02:56 AM   #76
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You are so dead to me.



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Old 11-30-2013, 03:03 AM   #77
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It's a black hole in my education.
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Old 11-30-2013, 06:37 AM   #78
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Be careful not to venture beyond the event horizon.

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Old 11-30-2013, 08:30 AM   #79
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I've never seen 2001:A Space Odyssey.













I'm sorry.
That's OK...the quote posted above is actually from 2010: The Year we Make Contact...

Bowman doesn't speak those words in 2001: A Space Odyssey

ETA: It is in the book written alongside the film, but the quote doesn't appear in the movie.
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Old 11-30-2013, 11:28 AM   #80
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I've never seen 2001:A Space Odyssey.













I'm sorry.
I'm told Stanley Kubrick wanted the movie to reflect the reality of space travel as closely as possible; it's my understanding that he did a very accurate job.

What this means for the movie-goer, though, is that the movie is incredibly dreary and boring and it drags on and on and on and on, slowly. I swear, it's the only movie I can think of that makes me not want to be an astronaut. The only reason I even finished it was because I wanted to be able to say I'd seen this "classic".

At the time I guess the movie was quite avant garde and wonderful in many ways; but whatever it touched among its audience when it was released, isn't there in today's audience that's all I can say.
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