Comet ISON

Comet ISON

OK, this has nothing to do with the web or office productivity or even ice cream, but it has the potential to be big, really big, and if events play out as Astronomers predict it has the potential to be spectacular in late 2013.  On Dec 27, the comet makes its closest approach to Earth at a distance of 0.429 AUs. It will then be 80° from the Sun and well placed in northern skies during the evening hours.
As I write this ISON S1 is just a small dot barely visible to only the most powerful telescopes near the orbit of Jupiter. ISON S1 was found by Vitali Nevski and Artyom Novichonok of Roscosmos and named in honor of their International Scientific Optical Network night-sky survey program.
The thing that makes ISON S1 unique from typical periodic comets in that it comes directly from the Oort Cloud, a cluster of frozen rocks and ices that circle the sun about 50,000 times farther away than Earth’s orbit and it is a sungrazer, that will travel through the sun’s atmosphere on November 28, passing just over one million kilometers from it’s surface. ISON may not survive this passage, but if it does, “Comet ISON…could be the brightest comet seen in many generations – brighter even than the full moon,” – British astronomer David Whitehouse. Comets like this, occur only once every few thousand years. This could quite possibly be the brightest comet since the dawn of civilization or it could fizzle out. Your guess is as good as mine, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed on this one.

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