Awesome comet incoming

"If astronomers' early predictions hold true, the holidays next year may hold a glowing gift for stargazers—a superbright comet, just discovered streaking near Saturn. Even with powerful telescopes, comet 2012 S1 (ISON) is now just a faint glow in the constellation Cancer. But the ball of ice and rocks might become visible to the naked eye for a few months in late 2013 and early 2014—perhaps outshining the moon, astronomers say. The comet is already remarkably bright, given how far it is from the sun, astronomer Raminder Singh Samra said. What's more, 2012 S1 seems to be following the path of the Great Comet of 1680, considered one of the most spectacular ever seen from Earth."

Comets do, however, sometimes fizzle, so I won’t get my hopes up yet. But I find them among the coolest natural phenomena anyway, even when they are so dim I need binoculars to see them.

This is going to be a Northern hemisphere object. :frowning:

Wat is quite amazing, is that Pastor Paul Begley wrote about this comet in a novel, and now it has come true:

Begley says that in his fiction book, [i]Mark of the Beast RFID[/i], he wrote of a coming asteroid that brought great fear upon the Earth. "This is the fifth thing that has come true after the book was written. This is kind of blowing my mind," he said.

“Are you saved?” he asks. "Now we know that this comet, it’s 615 million miles away, is on its way.

Uhm, he actually wrote about an asteroid, not a comet, but maybe pointing it out is pedantic?

Not at all. If nothing else, pointing it out will perhaps draw attention to the ridiculously loose standards and preposterously wide margins by which soothsayers call their prognostications “hits”. When the comet fails to hit Earth in a year or so, we won’t be hearing any retractions from chumps like Begley. They will either be very quiet or full to bursting with excuses, depending on how much discretion they are capable of. In Begley’s case, I’ll bet on the latter.


Well, that’s not fair. I am therefore going to sue the International Astronomical Union. And organize a massive strike by astronomers.

I know we’ve got a history of demanding first but I am sure a deal can be worked out before we go so far as a strike. The south’s got Omega Centauri, 47Tuc, the Coal Sack and the Southern Cross so maybe we can give them a comet. Hang on, the cross got nicked by that yellow convict colony so scratch that one, we’ll put the Jewel Box in it’s place. We still win I hope. :confused:

Allow me to ask seriously ignant questions for a moment…

The comet is in cancer at the moment. But the thing is comets move, and will likely reach max visibility a year from now. Is it unpossible that it’ll be viewable by us right-way-up folk?

The comet’s path must be calculated first. I think they need to estimate (measure) its position at three points in space (although it may be as few as two) to fit the movement of the comet to it’s particular ellipse. With additional points becoming available, the path predictions can be refined. From there on it should be straight forward to tell where it will turn up in the near future. It is quite possible that this one could end up below our horizon at night, but if it’s bright enough to be visible while the sun is up, we may catch a be glimpse of it yet. AFAIK comets in near proximity to the sun will at least be visible during sunset/ sunrise, so if you can see the sun setting or rising, you should see the comet too. If its bright.

We were spoilt by McNaught, and I’m happy to kick the bucket knowing that I’ve seen a spectacular comet during my lifetime. But a second will surely be a wonderful bonus!

ETA: This animation shows the comet approaching from the “top” (north?) of the planetary “disc” and leaving again on the “bottom” side … hopefully that should afford each hemisphere a chance to gawk. :confused:Comet C/2012 SI (ISON), Close Approach 26 Dec 2013 - (expand the video info field - worth a read.)


According to the information at that YouTube video, both hemispheres will get excellent views, although the northern hemisphere’s will be the best. It also says the comet was discovered by Russian amateurs Vitali Nevski and Artyom Novichonok of the International Scientific Optical Network (ISON).

So can we start calling it comet Nevski-Novichonok now instead of that unwieldy formal designation?

According to the information at that YouTube video, both hemispheres will get excellent views, although the northern hemisphere's will be the best.

Yay! Not an ignant question!

Thanks for the video Rigil, very cool.

Comet’s survival is doubtful.

I guess we’ll know in a day or two. Considering we have had consistent cloud cover here it looks like I won’t get to see it anyway, so the damn thing might as well break up. :slight_smile: