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Science, Inventions & Space Discuss 'Brighter than a full moon': The biggest star of 2013... could be the comet of the ce at the General Discussion; Should be a rare site if it comes close to what the scientists are speculating... 'Brighter than a full moon': ...

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Old 12-27-2012, 04:12 AM
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Default 'Brighter than a full moon': The biggest star of 2013... could be the comet of the ce

Should be a rare site if it comes close to what the scientists are speculating...

'Brighter than a full moon': The biggest star of 2013... could be the comet of the century

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At the moment it is a faint object, visible only in sophisticated telescopes as a point of light moving slowly against the background stars. It doesn't seem much – a frozen chunk of rock and ice – one of many moving in the depths of space. But this one is being tracked with eager anticipation by astronomers from around the world, and in a year everyone could know its name.

Comet Ison could draw millions out into the dark to witness what could be the brightest comet seen in many generations – brighter even than the full Moon.

It was found as a blur on an electronic image of the night sky taken through a telescope at the Kislovodsk Observatory in Russia as part of a project to survey the sky looking for comets and asteroids – chunks of rock and ice that litter space. Astronomers Vitali Nevski and Artyom Novichonok were expecting to use the International Scientific Optical Network's (Ison) 40cm telescope on the night of 20 September but clouds halted their plans.

...By the end of summer it will become visible in small telescopes and binoculars. By October it will pass close to Mars and things will begin to stir. The surface will shift as the ice responds to the thermal shock, cracks will appear in the crust, tiny puffs of gas will rise from it as it is warmed. The comet's tail is forming.

Slowly at first but with increasing vigour, as it passes the orbit of Earth, the gas and dust geysers will gather force. The space around the comet becomes brilliant as the ice below the surface turns into gas and erupts, reflecting the light of the Sun. Now Ison is surrounded by a cloud of gas called the coma, hundreds of thousands of miles from side to side. The comet's rotation curves these jets into space as they trail into spirals behind it. As they move out the gas trails are stopped and blown backwards by the Solar Wind.

By late November it will be visible to the unaided eye just after dark in the same direction as the setting Sun. Its tail could stretch like a searchlight into the sky above the horizon. Then it will swing rapidly around the Sun, passing within two million miles of it, far closer than any planet ever does, to emerge visible in the evening sky heading northward towards the pole star. It could be an "unaided eye" object for months. When it is close in its approach to the Sun it could become intensely brilliant but at that stage it would be difficult and dangerous to see without special instrumentation as it would be only a degree from the sun.
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Old 12-27-2012, 04:25 AM
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Default Re: 'Brighter than a full moon': The biggest star of 2013... could be the comet of th

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Originally Posted by cnredd View Post
Should be a rare site if it comes close to what the scientists are speculating...

'Brighter than a full moon': The biggest star of 2013... could be the comet of the century
Oh yeah.

It's all fun and games until crater time.
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Old 12-27-2012, 10:52 AM
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Default Re: 'Brighter than a full moon': The biggest star of 2013... could be the comet of th

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Originally Posted by Oftencold View Post
Oh yeah.

It's all fun and games until crater time.
Ya gotta die of something
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Old 12-27-2012, 11:03 PM
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Default Re: 'Brighter than a full moon': The biggest star of 2013... could be the comet of th

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Ya gotta die of something
Speak for yourself.
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Old 12-27-2012, 11:06 PM
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Default Re: 'Brighter than a full moon': The biggest star of 2013... could be the comet of th

neat-O keen.
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