All you need to know about the so-called Comet of the Century is right here, you're welcome. Even though, I wouldn't go as far as calling it the Century's Superstar, Comet ISON will be making headlines in no time! The last Comet that got astrophotographers around the world drooling, is Comet PanSTARRS, check these photos out if you still haven't.
Again, astronomers shouldn't be allowed to name things, this comet's official name is C/2012 S1 (ISON). 'Why', you ask? Because it was discovered by two Russian fellows in September of 2012 at the International Scientific Optical Network (and that spells ISON, you silly). What's most interesting about comets is how unpredictable they are, ISON could be the show of the decade or the joke of the month, it could turn out to be a dazzling light in the sky or a completely failed event. Let's get down with some numbers:
If ISON survives its solar pass-by, it could emerge so bright it could outshine Venus and even a Full Moon, and it would be visible during broad daylight (and you're very unlucky if you live in a super-cloudy city). Kind of like Comet Lovejoy back in 2011, it emerged intact with an awesome tail.
- ISON is as old the Solar System, and I mean 4,6 billion years old. All comets and other small space objects roaming about, were formed while our Solar System was taking shape, so these rocks are older than any rock you can find on Earth (that's not a meteor, of course)
- ISON was discovered while it was 940 million kilometers (584 million miles) away from the Sun, that's nearly 6 times the Earth-Sun distance.
- ISON has been traveling towards the Sun, and coming all the way from the edge of our Solar System, or the Oort Cloud (you can pronounce that however you like by the way) that's 1 light year away (yep, 10 million million kilometers)
- ISON's trajectory is so perfect that it suggests that this Comet is visiting the Sun for the very first time, and once it does, the Sun will twist the trajectory a little bit.
- ISON is moving towards the Sun, getting brighter and brighter, until reaching its perihelion (that's a techie word for closest to the Sun) on November 28th 2013, it'll come as close as only 1,3 million kilometers (800,000 miles) to the solar surface
- ISON will reach the Sun at a dazzling speed of 684,000 Km/h (425,000 mph) and the temperature on its surface can reach 1,1 million degrees Celsius (1,98 million degrees Fahrenheit)
- ISON pauses no risk whatsoever, news of a possible collision are not true, don't click on those links children, they're all lies. We're at a safe distance of 60 million kilometers away, all we might get is a meteor shower when the Earth passes through the Comet's debris in space.
Here's the list of possible scenarios:
Or ISON could break up, leaving a trail of shiny pearls, easily visible through a telescope. Kind of like Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 back in 1994.
|Come Shoemaker-Levy 9 taken by the Hubble Telescope|
Or else, ISON will just burn up and die, due to the Sun's stormy fits and strong gravity, and all astro-loving humans like myself, will be very unhappy. Kind of like Comet Kohoutek back in 1973, the Sun destroyed its nucleus and it was barely visible to the naked eye.
Hopefully ISON's relatively big size will assist in its safe flyby and will offer a breathtaking celestial show, as well as a staggeringly bright and large tail. This event is one that can not and that should not be missed!
Good news: ISON is twice as big as Lovejoy. (Less annihilation risk)
Bad news: ISON will come 10 times more closely to the Sun than Kohoutek did. (More annihilation risk)
Good news: (I couldn't help it) the closer a comet gets to the Sun, the brighter it'll shine. (Prettier show)