Comet ISON

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When I was a younger man I was lucky enough to spend huge chunks of my time wandering under the starry skies of Utah, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and California. I loved being in somewhat remote areas, able to look up and see infinity looking back down at me. I made good friends with the Milky Way, the moon, Orion, and other constellations. I’ve often thought that my biggest regret living in a city full-time and being a somewhat responsible adult is I’ve lost my connection to the stars. I mean I can go outside and still see Orion, and he is a good buddy, but I sure can’t see infinity in the sky here in downtown SLC. I miss it…

Don’t get me wrong. All-in-all, I like living where I do. I can go out my front door and in five or ten minutes I’ll be walking next to a stream and up a canyon. That’s pretty sweet! I’ll see some beautiful animal running up the trail ahead of me, and constellations in the canopy of tree branches, so life feels pretty good. I love nature, and being able to walk around in it is great, so I’m not complaining. But I do miss the stars.

I can also tell you that I miss the Comet Hale-Bopp. Haha! Funny to say so long after the fact, but it was so great to be able to see that comet caught up in the spring sky of 1997. In the ancient world, from what I understand, comets were often seen as very ill omens. Maybe because there is some racial memory of a comet cataclysm, or maybe it was just seeing them streak across the (seemingly) eternal night sky was too much change to handle. For me anyway, Hale-Bopp just brought wonder. Any celestial event is a good celestial event in my book, I guess.

Well, there is another comet passing by the sun this week that has potential to become another celestial event that we may be able to see back here on earth. Comet ISON will reach it’s closest point to the sun in its orbit on Thanksgiving, November 28th. There is a good chance that as it does, its tail will blossom and flare and become observable here on earth. I certainly hope so! I’d love to see another omen shouting its way through my night sky, saying to me “Happy Tofurkey-Day!”.

science.nasa.gov

hubble-comet-ison-photos-scale

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4 Responses to “Comet ISON”

  1. nidhay Says:

    What should be the best time to observe the comet on 28 November? Wud 10×50 binocs be a good equipment? I live in India… I too spotted Milky Way at Grand Canyon recently through Cassiopeia. M31, m42 are also my gud friends…I m15…

  2. Todd Powelson Says:

    From what I understand, we won’t know how bright ISON will be until it comes back around the sun on November 28th. There is a good possibility that on its return trip it will “ignite” and you’ll be able to see its brightness with just the naked eye. There is a possibility though that it wont live up to expectations and you’ll need more sophisticated equipment to see it. I hope that it gives us a show though :) We will know for sure on the 28th

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