Thursday, September 26, 2013

Amateur Astronomers See Comet ISON

Anticipation is building as Comet ISON approaches the sun for a close encounter on Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 28). No one knows if the blast of solar heating ISON receives will turn it into one of the finest comets in years--or destroy the icy visitor from the outer solar system.

Astronomer Carey Lisse, the head of NASA's Comet ISON Observing Campaign, hopes that "every telescope on Earth will be trained on the comet in October and November."  He may get his wish. As September comes to an end, amateur astronomers around the world are already monitoring the comet.

"Comet ISON is approaching Mars in the pre-dawn sky," explains Lisse. "It is invisible to the naked eye, but within reach of backyard telescopes."

Comet ISON
A new ScienceCast video explores the improving visibility of Comet ISON. Play it

"I photographed Comet ISON on Sept. 15th using my 4-inch refractor," reports astrophotographer Pete Lawrence of Selsey UK.  "The comet's tail is nicely on view even through this relatively small instrument." image

In Aquadilla, Puerto Rico, astronomer Efrain Morales Rivera saw the comet on Sept. 14th "rising above the canopy of the rain forest just minutes before sunrise. I used a 12-inch telescope," he says. image
In mid-September, the approaching comet was glowing like a star of 14th magnitude.  That's dimmer than some forecasters expected.

"Certainly we would love it to be a couple of magnitudes brighter right now," says researcher Karl Battams of the Naval Research Lab in Washington, D.C.,"but it's doing just fine. I'd say it's still on course to become a very eye-catching object."

More - Link >>>

Source: NASA Science News.

Related Blog Posts ---

Comet ISON to Fly by Mars  (2013 Aug. 24):

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Comet ISON: Unique Meteor Shower Mid-January  (2013 April 20):

Link >>>


Astronomers Begin Study of Comet ISON  (2013 April 1):

Link >>>


Comet of the Century? (2013 Jan. 19):

Link >>>

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