Thanksgiving comet.


Around the world, astronomers are buzzing with antic­i­pa­tion over the approach of Comet ISON. On Thanks­giv­ing Day 2013, the icy vis­i­tor from the outer solar sys­tem will skim the sun’s outer atmos­phere. Word was that, if it sur­vives its pass near the sun, Comet ISON might emerge as one of the bright­est comets in years. Although the prospects for an extreme­ly bright comet are not as good now as they appeared at ISON’s dis­cov­ery in late 2012, still, astronomers and many oth­ers are antic­i­pat­ing this comet.

But, before most of us on Earth see it, Comet ISON will sweep close to Mars. Comet ISON is pay­ing a visit to the Red Planet. On Oct 1st, the comet will pass with­in 0.07 AU from Mars, about six times clos­er than it will ever come to Earth. If ISON’s nucle­us is much big­ger than 0.5 km, it will prob­a­bly sur­vive its Thanks­giv­ing Day brush with the sun. It could turn into one of the most spec­tac­u­lar comets in many years. This is a tune-up for anoth­er comet encounter next year. Comet Sid­ing Spring, which will pass much clos­er to Mars in 2014.”

For now all eyes are on Comet ISON. An unprece­dent­ed num­ber of NASA space­craft – 16 – will be observ­ing the comet. Astro­nauts on board the Inter­na­tion­al Space Sta­tion will be watch­ing, too. Mean­while back on Earth, NASA is organizing a world­wide observ­ing cam­paign for Comet ISON. The goal is to have every tele­scope on Earth point­ed at the comet when it emerges from the sun. The Mars flyby will give us a sneak pre­view, pro­vid­ing data we need to pre­dict what we might see on thanksgiving day, 2013

By Posted in Astrophysics

8 comments on “Thanksgiving comet.

  1. I hope that this comet survives its pass with Mars and the Sun. If it collides with the Sun, what will happen? I am also curious as to how the viewing will proceed if the government is still shut down since NASA is funded by the government. I will be outside on Thanksgiving anticipating the sight of this comet.


  2. I think it’s super interesting that not only will this be one bright comet but that it’s getting so close to mars! I’m interested to see if it will survive its brush with the sun!


  3. I find it remarkable that the celestial occurrences just coincidentally align with human placed holidays, it’s easy to see why in early times many people found astrology to be factual. As for the number of spacecrafts that will be watching the comet and the campaign to get the people of the world to watch it too shows that even in modern times the happenings of the solar system still has a great marveling effect on people.


  4. I think it’s cool that ISON coincides with thanksgiving. Also NASA having 16 spacecraft viewing ISON is really interesting. I wonder how many spacecraft watch comets normally.


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