Dec 082012
 
The orbit of the comet of 1680, fit to a parab...

The orbit of the comet of 1680, fit to a parabola, as shown in Isaac Newton’s Principia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A comet discovered on September 21, 2012 by two Russian astronomers hasn’t made the major news outlets yet but it will soon enough. Comet ISON is on its way to bring us a sky show that could be the one of the most memorable since 1680. Gradually increasing in brightness, it will become visible to users with small telescopes or binoculars by August 2013 and visible to the naked eye by late October/early November. It will stay visible in the sky until January 2014 and may actually be brighter then the moon itself. It is not on a trajectory with earth but will pass with 1 degree of the sun. More to come on this later.

 

Dec 082012
 
Planets of the Solar System

Planets of the Solar System (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A mysteriously speeding object whipping through the solar system has caused some initial concern but has now been identified as the elusive Pons-Gambert Comet (aka C/2012 V4). It has been spotted speeding past Mars on a trajectory that will put it near the sun before it speeds out of site and away from us. This is the first time the comet has been seen since 1827. It should be visible to viewers on December 11th in the Southeastern portion of the U.S. with a brightness magnitude between 9.0 to 9.5 but its trajectory is low to the horizon and may be hard to see. It is measuring 5.4KM in size (3.4 miles) and will pass behind the sun and will not come close to Earth.