Great Comets of 2013?

As David Dickinson over at O canada.com points out, the news of the discovery of  Comet Ison has taken the intenet by storm. Will it hit the sun? Could be interesting as this thing is coming in at 50,000 miles an hour, is still a year out , and is expected to miss the sun by less than a solar diameter? Hopefully!Plus it will be visible, it is thought , in the northern hemisphere during the day.
Will we have a Christmas comet in 2013?
A close passage of Mars for Comet C/2012 S1 (ISON) in the fall of 2013.
Published: September 25, 2012, 1:18 pm

A comet discovery on Sept. 24, 2012 has the astronomical community abuzz concerning its possible appearance in our skies at some point in late 2013.

The comet in question is designated C/2012 S1 (ISON). ISON stands for the International Scientific Optical Network located near Kislovodsk, Russia. Astronomers Artyom Novichonok and Vitali Nevski imaged the comet using a 0.4 meter reflecting telescope.

At magnitude +18 in the constellation Cancer, the comet is not currently much to look at. What makes this discovery especially interesting, though, is its relatively large discovery distance coupled with its interesting orbital geometry near perihelion – the point at which it will be closest to the Sun – in Nov. 2013.

Comet C/2012 C1 ISON is currently just over 6.6 astronomical units from Earth. In comparison, Hale-Bopp was 7.2 astronomical units away during its initial discovery. Jupiter and Saturn have semi-major axes of 5.2 & 9.5 A.U.s, respectively.
613648main iss030e017838 wp 946 710 Will we have a Christmas comet in 2013?

Comet Lovejoy as seen from the International Space Station in late 2011. NASA

So, how bright will Comet ISON get? Well, comets are notoriously fickle beasts. One only has to look back at Comet Kohoutek in 1973 to see a great comet that wasn’t. Still, other Sungrazers, such as Comet Ikeya-Seki in 1965 and Comet Lovejoy earlier this year, made the ranks of the Great Comets.

Much speculation hinges on if Comet ISON survives its perihelion passage on November 28th 2013. On this date, Comet ISON will pass within 0.012 A.U.s or just over a 1.8 million kilometres from the Sun. Keep in mind, that the Sun itself is about 1.4 million kilometres in diameter. The entire comet could simply melt away at those relatively short distances.

But there is precedent for such a scorching passage: Kreutz sungrazer Comet Lovejoy passed only 145,000 kilometres above the photosphere and survived to become a great daylight comet in early 2012.
0 Will we have a Christmas comet in 2013?
NASA SDO – Lovejoy’s Journey around the Sun

Comet ISON has an almost parabolic orbit suggestive of an initial visitor to the inner solar system from the Oort Cloud. This also bodes well for an active and energetic nucleus. Researcher John Bortle also notes similarities between the path of Comet ISON and the Great Comet of 1680.

Interestingly, Comet ISON also passes less than 0.1 A.U. from Mars in late September 2013, making it a possible visual target for Mars Curiosity which is currently exploring its new home in Gale Crater. To our knowledge, an image of a comet from the surface of another world hasn’t been done before.
2013 nov 24 Will we have a Christmas comet in 2013?

Looking East: Comet ISON on the morning of November 24th, 2014, about an hour before sunrise from mid-northern latitudes. Created by the author in Starry Night

Comet ISON should also reach naked eye brightness (greater than +6 magnitude) as seen from Earth, as it crosses into the constellation Leo in September 2013. It will stand about 47 degrees from the Sun in the morning sky on October 1st, and passes only 1 degree from Mars and 2 degrees from Regulus on October 16th.

Note that there’s also a hybrid solar eclipse (i.e. an eclipse that’s annular along part of the track and total along another portion) across the mid-Atlantic & Central Africa on November 3rd, 2013 with the comet is less than 50° degrees away.

Comet ISON is projected to reach negative magnitudes just days before perihelion of November 28, but will be extremely close to the Sun for observation. It will also pass within five degrees of Saturn and Mercury and just a degree from +4th magnitude Comet Encke (2P) placed low in the dawn on the morning of November 24th.
comet c2012 s1 ison Will we have a Christmas comet in 2013?

The path on Comet ISON into the morning sky for the first two weeks of December 2013. Created by the Author using Starry Night

After a brief dip into the southern hemisphere, the real show may begin. Unlike Comet Lovejoy, Comet ISON will be well placed for northern hemisphere observers in mid to late December 2013.

If it survives perihelion, it may unfurl a magnificent dust tail in the dawn sky as it heads through the constellations Serpens Caput, Hercules, and Corona Borealis. A comet’s dust tail is swept back from solar wind pressure, and can actually extend in front of its path as it journeys back out of the solar system.

In fact, Comet ISON may still shine at a respectable magnitude +3 on Christmas Day 2013 and also just might become the great Christmas comet of 2013. Incidentally, comets are named after their discoverers and those discoveries are now made by automated surveys and satellites as opposed to lone dedicated amateur hunters. Hence names like “SOHO” and “LINEAR” that now grace many comets.

One of my favourites in the bizarre name category was Comet IRAS-Araki-Alcock that passed only 0.0312 A.U.s from the Earth (just under 12 times the Earth-Moon distance) in 1983.

And to head off the inevitable “Comet Elenin” hype that seems to follow any bright new comet discovery; Comet ISON isn’t a threat to the Earth. It will only pass about 0.4 A.U.s (just over 59 million kilometres) from Earth in early January 2014. This is just close enough to provide a good show. So, put away those anti-cyanide “comet pills” that your grandparents stashed away for the Great Comet of 1910 and enjoy the show.

Bruce Willis can stay home for this one!

2013 is already shaping up to be a great year for comets, with Comet Pan-STARRS (C/2011 L4) set to put on a fine performance in March of 2013 for southern hemisphere viewers. It’ll be fascinating to watch the passage of both comets as observations refine their orbits and a battery of cameras and telescopes await them, both in space & Earth-bound.

Read more Articles from David Dickinson

Advertisements

Free The Whales

Operation Zero Tolerance: Sea Shepherd’s Paul Watson Gears Up for Biggest Fight Yet Against Japanese Whaling
– Common Dreams staff

Captain Paul Watson is gearing up for Sea Shepherd’s biggest fight yet against Japanese whaling in the Antarctic, despite a second “red notice” being issued by Interpol for the oceans defender.

Paul Watson: “We humans are killing our oceans, we are diminishing bio-diversity, we are over heating the planet, we are pouring poisons into the sea and air. I cannot accept that meekly and I know with absolute certainty that if we kill the oceans, we kill ourselves.” (photo: Gert Steenssens via Flickr) Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s Operation Zero Tolerance campaign this year will be the ninth year the marine conservation group has fought to stop Japan’s killing of whales in the Southern Ocean, with this year set to be the biggest campaign yet, the group says.

Sea Shepherd founder Watson has written that what Japan says are “research” whaling operations are “nothing more than a mask for commercial operations,” violating a moratorium on whaling set by the International Whaling Commission.

“The Japanese whalers are sorely mistaken if they think another ‘red notice’ is going to stand in the way of Sea Shepherd’s defense of the whales this season,” said Susan Hartland, Administrative Director of Sea Shepherd. “It will in no way impact Sea Shepherd’s next Antarctic campaign, Operation Zero Tolerance, whose goal it is to send the whaling fleet home with zero kills.”

Telling Australia’s Fairfax Media of his determination of the mission, Watson, who remains in a secret location, said, “We aim to stop them completely this time. They will be so financially in the hole that they can’t climb out.”

“I believe that saving the lives of a thousand whales must take priority over playing courtroom games with Japan and Costa Rica,” he added. “You don’t win a battle by playing by the rules of the opposition.”

In an interview with a Sea Shepherd crewmember posted on the group’s website, Watson remarks that he is “not a fugitive from justice” and says that all the attention from charges he faces from Japan and Costa Rica have brought more support to the campaign.

Asked if he fears consequences of being captured, he says:

All of my life I have been afraid of only one thing and that is of doing nothing. I have never been able to fathom the idea of accepting the way things are. We humans are killing our oceans, we are diminishing bio-diversity, we are over heating the planet, we are pouring poisons into the sea and air. I cannot accept that meekly and I know with absolute certainty that if we kill the oceans, we kill ourselves. If the oceans die, we die and the oceans are dying in our time. My greatest fear is that people simply accept that fact.

* * *

In a TED talk delivered in 2010, Watson described Sea Shepherd’s fight to save marine life and said the whales “are our clients. They are who we represent.”

Are You Round-up Ready?

The first long term study on Glyphosate and GMO corn has been published Sept 19 and the results are sickening and shocking. Virtually all of the poor lab rats subjected to this experiment were found to be diseased in some way over their lifespan, with, for instance, 70% of females developing breast cancer! This stuff is so widespread in use that in most countries it is spread totally throughout the foodchain,  The WHO has no guidelines for its use, yet miniscule amounts as little as 50 nanograms per liter of water are shown to cause diseases in this study. In the area where we live, planes are spraying the herbicide regularly and most of the crops are GMO.

So far Monsanto has not responded to the findings, however, Facebook users are being blocked from making references to this study!
But scientist Joel Spiroux has called for new rules on GM foods:

“Current regulation tests are conducted over three months, but the really serious diseases, such as the death of rats due to tumors, occur only in the fourth month,” said Spiroux.

“Therefore these tests give no real information about the effects of genetically modified food on health over a lifetime.”

Watch this British news item on the study…

.First Long Term GMO Study

Or this more detailed look from the researchers themselves….

Thought Controlled Drones

Isaac Asimov wrote of a time in the future when musicians would perform by thought controlled devices, weaving aural tapestries with their minds. We may be getting closer…

FlyingBuddy2: Pilot This Mind-Controlled ‘Copter With Nothing But Your Thoughts

The Huffington Post  |  By Posted: 09/01/2012 1:11 pm

Meet the new breed of toy copter — no remote control required. At least these are controlled by humans – more recent drones are totally autonomous. Less possibility of human error!

The New Scientist points to a video posted by researchers at Zheijiang University in Hangzhou, China, which shows a quadcopter being flown using nothing but thoughts and wishes. That’s right: On this flight, your brain is your co-pilot. If you want the copter to turn right, you simply think, “Turn right.” If you want it to turn left, you think “turn left,” and so on.

Here’s video of the thought-controlled helicopter in action, along with a brief explanation of how it (incredibly) works:

The system was actually hacked together using parts that anyone can purchase: An EEG headset from Emotiv (a company that specializes in neuro-transmitting headsets), a Parrot AR Drone helicopter, a laptop and some nifty software cooked up by the Zheijiang researchers. If you live in Pittsburgh, good news: The researchers will be bringing their gear over to the Ubicomp Conference, which will be held in the Steel City from September 5-8.

Thought-controlled tech, while not yet ubiquitous, has certainly crept its way into the spotlight over the past couple years, thanks to some eye-popping, mind-bending proofs of concept. Most notably, mind-controlled board games, for example, are currently available for you to buy; some speculate that video game consoles that you control with your thoughts will be the future of gaming. In April 2011, meanwhile, a team of scientists allowed the cursor on a computer screen to be moved using only one’s thoughts.

(Actually, we may be in the middle of a revolution, in general, in the way we input and control our devices, transitioning from the mouse cursor to touchscreens, especially with the upcoming release of the touch-centric Windows 8 in October; and, too, don’t forget that there are companies hard at work on software and hardware that will allow you to control your machines with both your eyes and with gestures).

This is the first time, however, we’ve seen a quad-copter controlled using one’s thoughts, an invention that has as much potential as a diversion as it does a healing or mechanism. You’ll note that a couple of the example users in the video are in wheelchairs, and the New Scientist quotes the researchers’ paper as concluding that “[m]aybe one day in the future, disabled people can use brain [control] to drive a plane in which they are seated, and go anywhere they want to go.”

That future may be far off, but with baby steps like these being made in the present, it’s not hard to imagine how this kind of hands-free flight control might work some time soon.