comet ison

Comet ISON To Hit The Sun In 2013?

Comet ISON appears ready to hit the sun, according to scientists.

In other spacey news as previously reported by The Inquisitr, the most distant galaxy was recently confirmed.

But let’s discuss something a little closer to home, the comet ISON. Comet ISON was discovered in September 2012 by two Russian astronomers using telescopes in the International Scientific Optical Network (ISON). The comet is apparently made of mostly water and carbon dioxide ice and looks to be heading straight from the Oort Cloud at the sun.

How could this possibly be of great importance to us? (Because I personally think our sun can handle itself against a lump of water and ice.) Well. for one it will potentially make for a great show, even to the naked eye, or so hopes the comet watching community. The comet seems to be brightening the closer it gets to us, and many hope the effect will continue. Matthew Knight, an astronomer at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, says that “It’s still brightening but it has not been brightening as rapidly as we would have hoped.”

Comet ISON is now around 10 times fainter than can be seen by the human eye, unaided, and is just coming into view with binoculars. If the comet ISON does survive it’s trip around the sun and it’s intense heat, when it curves back around it will be in perfect viewing range. So comet watchers will want to keep an eye on ISON’s progress.

And then there is, of course, the scientific exploration. ISON is considered the “first of it’s kind” in the scientific community. After comet ISON’s circulation of the sun (if it survives), it will lose its top layer, exposing a window to the comet’s core. Scientists also say the comet could act at a sort of probe of the solar atmosphere.

Mr. Knight, talks about this fascinating opportunity:

“[This comet] is going from the absolute coldest place in the solar system to the absolute hottest. The change in temperature and gravitational pull makes it hard for us to predict what’s going to happen. It’s such a unique appearance that even if it disappoints from the ‘ooh and ah’ standpoint, I think the science is going to be really interesting.”

Michael Kelley, an astronomer at the University of Maryland, College Park also weighs in:

“We’ve never had a comet that seems to come directly from the Oort Cloud, on its first passage to the inner solar system in four billion years, all the way to within three solar radii of the solar surface.”

Carey Lisse from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory seems to think all this adds up to some very interesting conclusions:

“Once you have these bodies, you know how to build planets.”

Comet observer John Bortle just thinks it’s look weird:

“The recent images along with visual impression, is downright weird. There is a bright, miniature, long-tailed comet situated within a much larger, but very much fainter and diffuse halo of a coma.”

ISON seems to be commonly known as “sungrazer”, and will mark its closest distance from thesun on November 28, Thanksgiving. I, for one, will just be thankful it’s hitting the sun (or close to it) and not us on Earth. But it still may affect us in some manner:

So will you be watching for comet ISON?