Saturday, November 30, 2013

'Comet of the Century' Isn't

Comet ISON breaks up turning the corner around the sun:

OK, I admit it; I was too lazy to get up and see ISON on the few mornings that it was likely to be visible on its inbound trip, hoping to get view at a more comfortable hour on the outbound trip.  However, after a near encounter with the sun (1 million miles), it appears to have broken up into a cloud of stardust which is expected to not be especially spectacular on the way out.
Comet ISON is fading fast as it recedes from the sun. Whatever piece of the comet briefly survived its Thanksgiving Day brush with solar fire is now dissipating in a cloud of dust.

This development makes it unlikely that Comet ISON will put on a good show after it exits the glare of the sun in early December. Experienced astrophotographers might be able to capture the comet's fading "ghost" in the pre-dawn sky, but a naked-eye spectacle is out of the question.
We'll just have to wait for the next "Comet of the Century."

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