Who remembers Comet ISON? It was the comet that was obliterated by the sun back in December 2013. Before its solar demise, the media reported that as ISON passed us by it would become brighter than the moon; however, the comet was too dim to be seen by the naked eye. So, it is with some hesitation that we tell you about Comet Catalina. This comet will be visible in the Northern hemisphere as a pre-dawn object in late November and should get brighter and easier to find through the month of December. It is expected to be seen by the naked eye at dark sky sites, but will be a tough object to glimpse from most suburbs and cities. That being said, it is one comet we can guarantee that inexperienced observers can view with a pair of binoculars.
Poor Comet ISON was torn apart as it traveled around the Sun around Thanksgiving this year. And as we mourn the loss of Comet ISON we can still rejoice in the fact that there is another comet to be seen in our night sky with a pair of binoculars. Comet Lovejoy, also known as C/2011 R1, was first discovered by amateur astronomer, Terry Lovejoy, and is known as a long-period comet. This northern-hemisphere object was discovered on September 7 2013 and can currently be seen as it travels from Bootes across the constellations of Corona Borealis and Hercules.
Comet ISON is now officially gone, well, pretty much. The NASA Comet ISON Observing Campaign has issued a memoriam for Comet ISON.
Here is the latest view:
Karl Battams: It may be (almost) gone but comet ISON leaves a legacy of unprecedented data from numerous locations within the solar system! [Image credit: ESA, NASA, Annotations by Karl Battams]
Tomorrow, Thursday the 28th, as we prepare for Thanksgiving (and Hanukkah) a cosmic drama is set to unfold. For months, astronomers have been observing Comet ISON approach the sun, now estimated to be less than a mile wide, wondering whether the comet will survive its close encounter and re-emerge from behind the sun to become visible to the naked eye through December. You can follow this drama on line. Between 12noon and 2.30 pm (CST) tomorrow, NASA will host a Google Hangout while all eyes on the sun will watch Comet ISON make its plunge, passing perilously close (within 730,000 miles) above the sun’s surface and accelerating to 150,000 mph. Will it survive? Break up? Evaporate? Join the Google hangout to keep track of ISON’s progress!
There is already one recent video posted of ISON coming into view of one of the extended-corona imagers from NASA’s STEREO spacecraft, seen on the STEREO website.
Discernible for most of November in binoculars, ISON is probably the most scrutinized comet ever by NASA, but from the beginning of its discovery it’s also been one of the most confusing, frustrating and unpredictable objects to observe over time. I’m still betting on ISON becoming the comet of a lifetime.
Fifteen years ago on Nov. 20, 1998, the Roscosmos (the former Russian Space Agency) launched a Proton rocket that sent the Zarya module into space. This was the first section of the International Space Station. Two weeks later on Dec. 4, the United States launched the Unity module making the 2 modules a real international space station.
The ISS is now the third brightest object in the sky after the sun and moon. If you know where and when to look you can easily see it without a telescope, and NASA’s Mission Control at the Johnson Space Center in Houston can tell you when and where. Log onto Nasa.gov to receive e-mail or text alerts a few hours before the ISS will be passing over your area. If you sign up soon you might even be able to spot it while “comet hunting” during the Thanksgiving holiday.
Get ready everyone! Comet ISON is approaching the Sun, and is expected to be visible in the pre-dawn sky as early as this weekend. Check back with us for all things Comet ISON: comet updates, photography tips, and more. Don’t forget to come visit LASM to view “Vagabonds of the Solar System: Comets Past and Present” exhibition opens November 19th!
Clear November night skies offer several good reasons for bundling up and spending some time stargazing, even when it’s from your backyard. For early morning risers, Comet ISON should reach naked eye brightness toward the end of this month, but until then its visible in small telescopes low in the east-southeast sky before sunrise. ISON passes closest to the Sun on November 28 and is expected to become as bright as the planet Venus.
If you’re having trouble seeing ISON, try looking for the ring planet Saturn, along with the closest planet to the Sun – Mercury, near the horizon. Saturn is a pale, yellowish object that will rise higher in the early morning sky beginning in December and a sight not to be missed if you’re out before sunrise. But the solar system’s largest planet, Jupiter, is a much easier object to locate primarily because it,s big and bright – visible in the east shortly after 8 pm. and high overhead by midnight; it’s the brightest object in the eastern sky. Even throiugh a pair of binoculars, you should be able to observe its four brightest moons and from night to night notice that these tiny moons change position as they orbit Jupiter.
A must see object in the eastern evening fall and winter night sky is the Pleiades star cluster, easily visible even in an urban setting without any optical aid. The cluster is located in the constellation Taurus the Bull and is best when seen through a pair of binoculars.
Mars Express will take photos of Comet ISON’s coma, the atmosphere that surrounds ISON’s nucleus. Also, NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has been tracking ISON and may be able to get a look as well through October 2nd.
These cameras were designed to shoot high-resolution photos of Mars but scientists are going to attempt to use them to catch a glimpse of ISON as it passes. A lot depends on how bright ISON is as it gets closer to the sun. Keep your fingers crossed….
instruments for NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
This illustration shows comet ISON closely passing Mars on October 1, 2013. Credit: NASA