Tag Archives: Comet ISON

Though this conclusion is not final, it appears that Comet ISON was destroyed today in its close fly-by of the Sun.

Though this conclusion is not final, it appears that Comet ISON was destroyed today in its close fly-by of the Sun.

A sad end to what has been a cometary disappointment. First spotted while it was very far from the Sun, astronomers thus hoped that Comet ISON would blaze brightly when it got closer. Instead, it hardly brightened at all during its journey inward, barely reaching naked eye visibility in the last week. Now it appears to be gone forever.

Scientists will gain some knowledge from this comet, as it was a first time visitor to the inner solar system and thus provides information about the solar system’s beginnings. Nonetheless, for those of us that enjoy watching the beautiful things the heavens give us, this comet will always remain a dud.

Comet ISON makes its close flyby of the sun today.

Comet ISON makes its close flyby of the sun today.

Three possible fates await Comet ISON, according to Don Yeomans, manager of NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program Office at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

“It could be tough enough to survive the passage of the sun and be a fairly bright naked-eye object in the early morning sky in the first week of December,” Yeomans said in a statement. “Or, the sun could actually pull it apart. The tidal forces could actually pull this comet apart and so it becomes several chunks rounding the sun and putting on a great show again in early December. Or, if the comet is very weak, it could break up into a cloud of dust and be a complete bust in December.”

So far the comet has been a big disappointment in terms of brightness. However, its flyby today will be interesting as scientists will get a chance to observe one of the largest sun-grazers they’ve ever seen do this.

Comet ISON brightens to just within naked eye visibility.

Comet ISON brightens to just within naked eye visibility.

“[T]he little but intensely condensed, globular cluster-looking comet was a whopping magnitude 5.4 — two full magnitudes brighter than just 24 hours ago! This makes for a three magnitude total rise since my observation on Monday.” In just 72 hours, Comet ISON increased nearly 16 times in brightness.

Don’t get too excited. Magnitude 5.4 would make it comparable to one of the dimmer stars in the night sky, while the description above indicates it looks less like a comet and more like a blob.

Comet ISON is now visible in binoculars, and has a double tail.

Comet ISON is now visible in binoculars, and has a double tail.

The double tail is not that unusual. Many comets sport two tails.

Only a few weeks till the comet makes its closest approach to the Sun, it is appears that ISON is not going to give us much of a show, though the knowledge that will be gained from it will still be substantial.

Scientist right now think it is a toss-up whether Comet ISON will survive its dive past the sun on November 28.

Scientist right now think it is a toss-up whether Comet ISON will survive its dive past the sun on November 28.

Essentially, they have no idea what will happen. They know most of the factors effecting the comet, but cannot predict the result. If the comet breaks up, however, it will be very cool, as this will probably be the largest comet ever seen by astronomers to do this.

Comet ISON has now brightened to 11th magnitude as it approaches its flyby of Mars.

Comet ISON has now brightened to 11th magnitude as it approaches its flyby of Mars.

The story above is hopeful the comet will put on a show in November, but I am increasingly doubtful. To be even visible to the naked eye it must brighten to 6th magnitude, and it appears to be brightening far slower than expected.

Posted as we drive through El Paso, Texas.

Comet ISON has come out from behind the Sun, and it looks like it will not produce a grand show for us later this year.

Comet ISON has come out from behind the Sun, and it looks like it will not produce a grand show for us later this year.

There will be a lot of stupid commentary criticizing astronomers for hyping this comet, all unfair. The comet had the strong possibility of being spectacular. Astronomers pointed that out, being as hopeful as everyone to see a bright and beautiful comet grace our night skies for a few months. That this is not turning out to be so is not their fault.

Many in the astronomy community do not agree with the recent conclusions of one astronomer that Comet ISON is likely a dud.

The uncertainty of science: Many in the astronomy community do not agree with the recent conclusions of one astronomer that Comet ISON is likely to be a dud.

The arguments from both sides are quite interesting. Stay tuned. We will find out in only a few more months.

According to the observations of one Italian astronomer, it appears that Comet ISON will not be the “Comet of the Century,” as hoped.

According to the observations of one Italian astronomer, it appears that Comet ISON will not be the “Comet of the Century,” as hoped.

This fits with other recent reports, all of which suggested that the comet is not brightening as it should.

Observations of Comet ISON have detected strong carbon dioxide emissions escaping from the comet.

Call Al Gore! Observations of Comet ISON have detected strong carbon dioxide emissions escaping from the comet.

Images captured June 13 with Spitzer’s Infrared Array Camera indicate carbon dioxide is slowly and steadily “fizzing” away from the so-called “soda-pop comet,” along with dust, in a tail about 186,400 miles (300,000 kilometers) long. “We estimate ISON is emitting about 2.2 million pounds (1 million kilograms) of what is most likely carbon dioxide gas and about 120 million pounds (54.4 million kilograms) of dust every day,” said Carey Lisse, leader of NASA’s Comet ISON Observation Campaign and a senior research scientist at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md. “Previous observations made by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and the Swift Gamma-Ray Burst Mission and Deep Impact spacecraft gave us only upper limits for any gas emission from ISON. Thanks to Spitzer, we now know for sure the comet’s distant activity has been powered by gas.”

“Comet of the Century”? We’ll soon find out.

“‘Comet of the Century’? We’ll soon find out.”

This article, as well as a bunch of others published this week about Comet ISON, suggest to me that the comet is going to be a dud. These articles all are suggesting that we won’t know if the comet will be as bright as hoped until after it flies around the sun. This is absolutely wrong. As the comet drops down towards the sun it should heat up and begin brightening, producing a tail. This is what all comets do. If it doesn’t brighten on its journey in, then it won’t be bright on its journey out.

That the authors of these articles don’t know that, or are hiding it, is simply bad journalism. Moreover, this effort to spin the comet’s dimness now suggests that the comet is now far dimmer than hoped, which strongly suggests it will remain that way.