Comet ISON Might be Seen in the Philippines


I was always fascinated by what’s on our solar system. May it be asteroids, heavenly planets, stars or anything that made up our universe is quite a spectacle for me! Once in a while, I try to look up in the sky hoping to see something spectacular like an eclipse or a meteor shower.

We may be in good luck just before the 2013 will end, a comet will probably appear right before our very eyes!

Introducing the Comet ISON. Comet ISON, also known as C/2012 S1 or Comet Nevski–Novichonok, is a sungrazing comet discovered by Vitali Nevski and Artyom Novichonok on 21 September 2012. Thanks to Wiki, we can indulge ourselves to know more about this comet. Using the 0.4-meter (16 in) reflector of the International Scientific Optical Network (ISON), the discovery was made near Kislovodsk, Russia. Data processing was carried out by automated asteroid-discovery program CoLiTec. Precovery images by the Mount Lemmon Survey from 28 December 2011 and by Pan-STARRS from 28 January 2012 were quickly located. Using the iTelescope network, follow-up observations were made on 22 September by a team from Remanzacco Observatory in Italy. The discovery was announced by the Minor Planet Center on 24 September. Observations by Swift in January 2013 suggested that C/2012 S1's nucleus was around 5 kilometers (3 mi) in diameter.

NASA is so grateful to share the itinerary of Comet ISON. Well, let’s just see what’s up ahead from November to December, 2013.

On November 2013 
Observations of Comet ISON with NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory will be used to study particles streaming away from the sun in the solar wind. These particles from the sun interact with Comet ISON to generate X-rays that are detected by Chandra. The first of two sets of observations is planned for early November, when Comet ISON will be passing through the hot wind produced by regions along the sun's equator.

On Nov. 16-19 & 21-26, 2013
Comet ISON will be visible to MESSENGER, which is near Mercury. The closest approach will be on Nov. 19.

Once the comet passes Mercury, it will be on the most perilous part of its journey. The intense radiation of the sun causes material to evaporate quickly off the comet. Moreover the very pressure of the solar particles on the comet can cause it to break up. A slew of space and ground-based telescopes will watch the comet as it makes its slingshot around the sun.

On Nov. 18-24, 2013
Launch window for NASA’s FORTIS (short for Far-ultraviolet Off Rowland-Circle for Imaging and Spectroscopy) sounding rocket, which will measure ultraviolet light from Comet ISON as it nears the sun. Such light can help scientists determine the production rate of volatile chemicals leaving the comet surface and also can be used to search for previously undetected types of atoms or molecules on the comet.

On Nov. 21-30, 2013
As of Nov. 21, Comet ISON will begin to enter the fields of view of NASA’s space-based solar observatories. Comet ISON will be viewed first in what’s called coronagraphs, images that block the brighter view of the sun itself in order to focus on the solar atmosphere, the corona. Such images – from STEREO and the joint European Space Agency/NASA Solar Heliospheric Observatory, or SOHO -- will likely be quite visually compelling. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, will view the comet for a few hours around perihelion. SDO’s imagery should be detailed enough to gather information about how the comet evolves through the radiation and pressure of the sun’s atmosphere.


All of these observatories will have different views. STEREO-A will be the only one that sees the comet transit across the face of the sun. In SDO’s view, the comet will appear to travel above the sun.

The exact dates of view for these observatories are as follows:

Nov 21–28:     STEREO-A HI1 sees comet
Nov 26-29:       STEREO-B coronagraphs sees comet
Nov 27-30:    SOHO sees comet in coronagraphs
Nov 28-29:     STEREO-A coronagraphs sees comet
Nov 28:         SDO sees comet (for a few hours)

In addition, ground-based solar telescopes – observing in optical, infrared and radio wavelengths – will all be able to observe the comet during perihelion. Such observations will provide additional information about the composition of the comet and how material evaporates off it, fueling the dusty cloud that surrounds the nucleus.

One last solar effect could impact the comet at this stage in its journey. If the sun coincidentally sends out a giant cloud of solar particles, known as a coronal mass ejection, at the right time and direction to pass the comet, it could pull the comet’s tail right off.

On December 2013 - January 2014
If Comet ISON survives its trip around the sun, there’s a good chance that it will be incredibly bright and easily visible with the naked eye in the Northern Hemisphere. In early December, it will be seen in the morning, low on the horizon to the east-southeast. In late December and early January, it will be visible all night long.

A second set of Chandra observations is planned for the middle of December to early January, when ISON will be passing through a transition region in the solar wind, where the hot wind from the Sun's equator is mixed with a cooler wind produced by regions near the poles of the sun.

On December 26, 2013
Closest approach to Earth will be approximately 40 million miles.

Through all these facts, will it be seen here on the Philippines? Filipino astronomer Frederic Gabriana calculated that Comet ISON will be seen in the Philippines by November.

If a good weather hits the country, Space.com was cited in an earlier report as saying that it might even be seen during the daytime on Nov. 28, 2013. Just keep an eye open for this one!

Cheerio!

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