From: Andy Soos, ENN
Published January 2, 2013 07:56 AM

Comet ISON

Comets come and go over the ages. Some are bright enough to scare while others sort of dribble off into the inky cosmos. They are hard to predict but they can be detected a long way off. The newest discovery was made at the International Scientific Optical Network by two amateur astronomers in Russia who are credited with finding the object, and was subsequently named Comet ISON to give credit to the group who discovered it. It will be visible on Earth in late 2013 and the first few weeks of 2014. it has the potential of being bright and only time will tell. So something to think about as the year progresses.

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As of the beginning of 2008 the ISON network joins:

    18 scientific institutions in 9 states
    18 observatories and observation facilities
    25 optical instruments
    more than 50 observers and researchers

The ISON structure consists of a network of optical facilities for the studying of faint 16th magnitude objects such as space debris detection and tracking, center for observation planning and data processing including maintenance of the database on space objects. 

"The object was slow and had a unique movement. But we could not be certain that it was a comet, because the scale of our images are quite small and the object was very compact," Artyom Novichonok, wrote on a comets mailing list hosted on Yahoo.

Follow-up observations as well as a search of archived images of the area confirmed the discovery, which was officially reported on Sept. 24, three days after Novichonok and Vitali Nevski found the object far beyond Jupiter’s orbit.

Halley's Comet is the best-known of the short-period comets and is visible from Earth every 75—76 years. Halley is the only short-period comet that is clearly visible to the naked eye from Earth, and thus the only naked-eye comet that might appear twice in a human lifetime. Other naked-eye comets may be brighter and more spectacular, but will appear only once in thousands of years.  Furthermore, the comet made a relatively close approach of 0.15AU, making it a spectacular sight in 1910. On May 19th, the Earth actually passed through the tail of the comet.

For further information see ISON.

Image: Color-enhanced view of Comet ISON photographed at the RAS Observatory near Mayhill, NM on Sept. 22, 2012, by amateur astronomers Ernesto Guido. 

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