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C/2012 1S (ISON) Could be Spectacular

It may not look like much right now, but give the faint comet called C/2012 S1 (ISON) another year as it gets closer to the Sun, and skygazers could have quite a sight to behold next November. The comet, which was discovered on September 21 by astronomers using the 0.4-meter Santel reflector of the International Scientific Optical Network (ISON) near Kislovodsk, Russia, will pass very close to the Sun — only about 1.8 million kilometers. As it nears the Sun, the comet will get heated and its ices will start to sublimate.

This should create a beautiful tail made of dust streaming away from the comet’s nucleus. It should also provide a faint plasma tail, caused by as the solar wind excites atoms of gas in the tail and cause them to glow.

If the comet doesn’t break apart or fizzle out, the views should be fantastic beginning late autumn 2013 through early 2014, and observers in both hemispheres will get quite a show.  Will C/2012 S1 (ISON) look as spectacular as Comet Hale-Bopp does in this image from E. Kolmhofer, H. Raab; Johannes-Kepler-Observatory, Linz, Austria?

It’s too soon right now to tell just how bright it will get. As more observations of this comet come in, astronomers will fine-tune its orbit and get additional data on its ice and gas content. So, stay tuned!

Christmas Comet Lovejoy Captured at Paranal

 

The recently discovered Comet Lovejoy has been captured in stunning photos and time-lapse video taken from ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile. The comet graced the southern sky after it had unexpectedly survived a close encounter  with the Sun.

A new time-lapse video sequence was taken by Gabriel Brammer from ESO less than two days ago on 22 December 2011. Gabriel was finishing his shift as support astronomer at the Paranal Observatory when Comet Lovejoy rose over the
horizon just before dawn.

 

Credit:ESO/ G. Brammer

Did a Comet Cause the Younger Dryas Cooling?

In a paper to be published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, available online now here, astrobiologist Professor Napier of Cardiff University (UK) has announced that he believes that the cooling period in the Upper Paleolithic period known as the Younger Dryas, may have been set off by the impact of debris from a comet. This period of time, almost 13,000 years ago, was responsible for “intense wildfires over North America, major disruption of human culture, and the rapid extinction of 35 genera of North American mammals.”

NASA Confirms Jupiter Recently Hit By Object Possibly A Comet

Credit: NASA/JPL/Infrared Telescope Facility

NASA reports scientists have found evidence that another object has bombarded Jupiter, exactly 15 years after the first impacts by the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9.

Following up on a discovery by an amateur astronomer, Anthony Wesley of Australia, that a new dark “scar” had suddenly appeared on Jupiter, this morning between 3 and 9 a.m. PDT (6 a.m. and noon EDT) scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., using NASA’s Infrared Telescope Facility at the summit of Mauna Kea, Hawaii, gathered evidence indicating an impact.


Equipment  Details

		http://www.acquerra.com.au/astro

Scope: 		Homebrew GEM mounted Newtonian using a 14.5"
 Royce conical mirror
		(link to images removed until the slashdot
 tsumani retreats)

Mount: 		Losmandy Titan
Optics:
		- 14.5" f/5 Royce conical primary
		- 1/30 wave Antares Optics secondary
		- Televue 5x powermate , working at 7.7x

Camera: 		Point Grey Research Dragonfly2 mono
 camera, ICX424al
Filters:		Astrodon I-Series RGB
Capture details:	60 seconds in each filter @ 47fps.
Capture software:	Coriander
Operating System:	Linux (Fedora 10 x86)

Processing software:	Ninox for crop and presort
			Registax for alignment and stacking
			Astra Image for deconvolution and RGB align
			The Gimp for cleanup and captioning.

New Results from Deep Impact

On 4 July 2005, comet Tempel 1 was impacted by NASA’s Deep Impact mission. In September of 2005, NASA released a public information “recipe” which would give the public an idea of the ingredients which make up the comet’s composition. Soon to appear in the Astrophysical Journal, available now online here, is a paper which summarizes a detailed analysis of the composition of the comet based upon its spectroscopy. Furthermore, based upon the changes in the spectra noted over time after which the impact itself took place, astronomers provide a story about the possible history of the formation of the comet.

In Search of the Green Comet

Comet Lulin may become visible to the un-aided eye in dark sky areas around the world this weekend. Discovered in a photograph taken by Taiwan’s astronomer Chi Sheng Lin in the summer of 2007, comet Lulin makes its closest approach to Earth on February 24, 2009. You may find it in the early morning skies just before sunrise, in the constellation Libra, Virgo or Leo, depending when this month you seek it out. If you have a telescope, you should not have problems finding this comet which is unusually green. See a picture of the comet and star maps to locate it in the sky online at http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2009/04feb_greencomet.htm

Remembering Comet 17P/Holmes

If you were looking up in the sky in November of 2007, you likely remember the brouhaha over the sudden brightening and enlargement of Comet 17P/Holmes. Astronomers address this phenomenon in a new article that will appear later this year in Astronomy and Astrophysics. It is available now online at http://xxx.lanl.gov/PS_cache/arxiv/pdf/0901/0901.2739v1.pdf These European astronomers explain the brightening outburst as a result of the sublimation (substance going directly from solid to vapor without ever turning liquid) of frozen water, which was covered by a thick layer of dust.

August 2014
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