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Breaking News:

New comet might blaze brighter than the full Moon

New comet might blaze brighter than the full Moon

Wikipedia Report


Brightness and visibility


Related Prophecy


Related in the News

New comet might blaze brighter than the full Moon

Comet C/2012 S1 near earth passage November 2013

Posted on 28 January 2013 by "the witness"


Posted: 25 September 2012 

Comet C/2012 S1 ISON

Main Photo: Comet C/2012 S1 near earth passage November 2013. Top Left: File photo of Comet Hale-Bopp which wowed observers in 1997. Image: Kazuhiro Seto. Bottom right: Comet path of C/2012 S1 with solar system perspective.

A new comet has been discovered that is predicted to blaze incredibly brilliantly in the skies during late 2013. With a perihelion passage of less than two million kilometres from the Sun on 28 November 2013, current predictions are of an object that will dazzle the eye at up to magnitude —16. That's far brighter than the full Moon. If predictions hold true then C/2012 S1 will certainly be one of the greatest comets in human history, far outshining the memorable Comet Hale-Bopp of 1997 and very likely to outdo the long-awaited Comet Pan-STARRS (C/2011 L4) which is set to stun in March 2013.

The new comet, named C/2012 S1 (ISON) was found by the International Scientific Optical Network (ISON) in Russia on 21 September when astronomers Vitali Nevski and Artyom Novichonok captured it on CCD images taken through a 0.4-metre reflector. Its near-parabolic orbit suggests that it has arrived fresh from the Oort Cloud, a vast zone of icy objects orbiting the Sun, pristine remnants of the formation of the Solar System.

C/2012 S1 currently resides in the northwestern corner of Cancer. At magnitude +18 it is too dim to be seen visually but it will be within the reach of experienced amateur astronomers with CCD equipment in the coming months as it brightens. It is expected to reach binocular visibility by late summer 2013 and a naked eye object in early November of that year. Northern hemisphere observers are highly favoured. Following its peak brightness in late November it will remain visible without optical aid until mid-January 2014.

Comet brightness predictions sometimes exceed their performance. Amateur astronomers of a certain age may remember the Comet Kohoutek hype of 1973 – not quite the 'damp squib' it has been portrayed, since it reached naked eye visibility! Even if C/2012 S1 takes on the same light curve as Kohoutek it is certain to be spectacular, quite possibly a once-in-a-civilisation's-lifetime event.


Wikipedia Report

C/2012 S1 (ISON) is a sungrazing comet discovered on 21 September 2012 by Vitali Nevski (Виталий Невский, Vitebsk, Belarus) and Artyom Novichonok (Артём Новичонок, Kondopoga, Russia). The discovery was made using the 0.4-meter (16 in) reflector of the International Scientific Optical Network near Kislovodsk, Russia and the automated asteroids discovery program CoLiTec. [1]Precovery images by the Mount Lemmon Survey from 28 December 2011 and by Pan-STARRS from 28 January 2012 were quickly located. [4] Follow-up observations were made on 22 September by a team from Remanzacco Observatory in Italy using the iTelescope network. [1][5] The discovery was announced by the Minor Planet Center on 24 September, three days after the discovery. [4]




Orbital position of C/2012 S1 on 11 December 2013 after perihelion

Comet C/2012 S1 will come to perihelion (closest approach to the Sun) on 28 November 2013 at a distance of 0.012 AU (1,800,000 km; 1,100,000 mi) from the center point of the Sun. [2][6] Accounting for the solar radius of 695,500 km, the comet will pass approximately 1,100,000 kilometres (680,000 mi) above the Sun's surface. Its orbit is nearly parabolic, which suggests that it may be a dynamically new comet coming freshly from the Oort cloud. [7][8] On closest approach, the comet will pass about 0.072 AU (10,800,000 km; 6,700,000 mi) from Mars on 1 October 2013, and it will pass about 0.42 AU (63,000,000 km; 39,000,000 mi) from Earth on 26 December 2013. [6]

Some of the orbital elements of comet C/2012 S1 are similar to that of the Great Comet of 1680 which suggests the two comets may have fragmented from the same parent body. [9] Earth is expected to pass through the orbit of the comet on 14-15 January 2014, which may result in the creation of a meteor shower. [10]


Brightness and visibility

At the time of its discovery, the comet's apparent magnitude was approximately 18.8, far too dim to be seen with the naked eye, but bright enough to be imaged by amateurs with large telescopes. [11][12] If it follows the pattern of most comets, it may be expected to increase gradually in brightness as it approaches the sun, then dim again after it rounds the Sun and heads back to the outer solar system.

During August 2013, it should become bright enough to be visible through small telescopes or binoculars, becoming visible to the naked eye by late October or early November and remaining so until mid-January 2014. [12][7]

In October, the comet will pass through the constellation Leo, passing near Leo's brightest star Regulus and then passing near Mars in the night sky, and these brighter objects might make the comet easier to locate. [11] In November, when the comet is brighter, it will sweep another bright star in our sky, Spica in the constellation Virgo, and another planet, Saturn. [13] Around the time the comet reaches its perihelion on 28 November, it may become extremely bright if it remains intact, probably reaching a negative magnitude. [5] It may briefly become brighter than the full Moon. [8][7]

It is expected to be brightest around the time it is closest to the sun; however, it may be less than 1° from the Sun at its closest, making it difficult to see against the sun's glare. [14] In December, the comet will be growing dimmer, but, assuming that it remains intact, it will be visible from both hemispheres of Earth, possibly with a long tail. [11]

Predicting the brightness of a comet is difficult, especially one that will pass so close to the Sun and be affected by the forward scattering of light. Comet Kohoutek and C/1999 S4 did not meet expectations, but if comet C/2012 S1 survives it could look similar to the Great Comet of 1680, the Great Comet of 2007, or C/2011 W3 (Lovejoy). [5][15] The brightest comet since 1935 was Comet Ikeya–Seki in 1965 at magnitude -10. [16] Comet C/2012 S1 (ISON) will be well placed for observers in the northern hemisphere during mid to late December 2013. [17]



The name of the comet is simply, C/2012 S1. The addition of "(ISON)" after its name, merely identifies the organization where its discovery was made, the Russia-based International Scientific Optical Network. If the same organization had discovered a similar, but unrelated comet one day later, that one would have been named "C/2012 S2 (ISON)". Nevertheless, media sources, incorrectly interpreting the parenthetical identification as a nickname, have taken to calling the comet by the location of its discovery, [18][19][20] and consequently, this name could persist in use even though it would become confusing with later discoveries made from the same location. The names of famous short-period comets usually identify the astronomers who discovered them or clearly identified them as a periodic comet, such as Comet Halley or Comet Swift-Tuttle. If that convention were followed, this should be the Comet Nevski-Novichonok or C/2012 S1 Nevski-Novichonok.


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