Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Readying For Comet ISON

 Out in deep space some 6 billion miles from the sun lies an area containing billions of icy bodies.   Every so often one of theses bodies falls out of this area and hurtles sunward. 

In September of 2012 just such an object was discovered by  Artyom Novichonok and Vitali Nevski using a 40 cm-diameter telescope.  Designated comet ISON its  path  will bring it within over 6 hundred thousand miles above the Sun’s  surface on 28 November of 2013.

Both ESA and NASA have  missions that are now planning to observe ISON.  ESA’s Mars Express will be taking photos and analyzing the composition of the comet’s coma for a two week period.   

SOHO, a  joint ESA/NASA mission will observe the comet as it swings around the Sun in November,  to see if the comet survives its close encounter with the sun.

ESA’s Venus Express and Proba-2 will also target ISON during November and December.

December 26 is the best time to observe the comet during its' closest pass to Earth.  Its brightness will be very much reduced however as its close encounter will have burned off substantial amounts of ice and other gasses

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