{2013 Sky Observer Guide} Great Comets

Updated: March 8, 2013

C/2012 S1 (ISON) comet has now been down­graded a bit and may not be “quite” as bright as was ini­tially hoped. But even with the down­grad­ing of bright­ness it should still be a fab­u­lous sight.

Just like beau­ti­ful plan­e­tary align­ment in late winter/early spring of 2012 when you could see Venus, Jupiter, Mer­cury, Mars, and Moon rolling in the skies pretty close together, next year’s sky is going to be even more spec­tac­u­lar with two bright comets — C/2011 L4 (PANSTARRS) and C/2012 S1 ISON — approach­ing the Sun. Unfor­tu­nately, at their bright­est next year, both will be quite low in the sky.

Comet PANSTARRS: A Great Comet In 2013?

This comet was dis­cov­ered by the 1.8-m Pan-STARRS 1 Ritchey-Chretien tele­scope (Haleakala, Hawaii, USA) on June 6, 2011 with mag­ni­tude 19.4 at a dis­tance of nearly 7.9 AU from the Sun. PANSTARRS will pass clos­est to Earth on 2013 March 5 (1.10 AU). It could be very bright in March, head­ing north and pass­ing close to the Androm­eda Galaxy (M31) in early April in the early morn­ing sky.

Pass­ing per­i­he­lion on March 10, 2013, at the dis­tance of only 0.3 AU from the Sun, this comet might reach the bright­ness from 0 to –1, and some even say up to –4, shin­ing as bright as Venus.

Path of comet C/2011 L4 from now until next April. Credit: Dave Eagle @ http://www.eagleseye.me.uk

Comet PANSTARRS around April 7, 2013

Comet PANSTARRS around April 7, 2013. Credit: Dave Eagle @ http://www.eagleseye.me.uk

Comet PANSTARRS, sky path from 12 March 2013 till 7 May 2014

Comet PANSTARRS, sky path from 12 March 2013 till 7 May 2014

Comet ISON: A Day­light Great Comet In 2013?

This one’s pure awesomeness.

Dis­cov­ered at mag­ni­tude 18.8 on Sep­tem­ber 21 by the two astronomers, Vitali Nevski from Vitebsk, Belarus, and Artyom Novi­chonok from Kon­do­poga, Rus­sia, in about a year from now, Comet C/2012 S1 (ISON) might become the bright­est comet any­one alive has ever seen.

Accord­ing to pre­dic­tions, the comet will approach to within 0.012 AU of the Sun at the end of Novem­ber 2013. Then, in Jan­u­ary 2014, the comet will approach to within 0.4 AU of Earth. Some­time in late Octo­ber or early Novem­ber 2013, ISON should cross the naked-eye vis­i­bil­ity thresh­old. From there, it may reach — or even exceed — the bright­ness of the Full Moon.

Path of Comet C/2012 S1 over the next year and a half.

Path of Comet C/2012 S1 over the next year and a half. Credit: Dave Eagle @ http://www.eagleseye.me.uk

Comet ISON on December 10, 2013

Comet ISON on 10 Decem­ber 2013. Credit: Dave Eagle @ http://www.eagleseye.me.uk

Comet ISON, sky path from 14 November till 20 December 2013

Comet ISON, sky path from 14 Novem­ber to 20 Decem­ber 2013

Sources:
Appear­ance of PANSTARRS and ISON Comet next year
Wordt 2013 het Jaar van de Grote Kome­ten PANSTARRS en ISON?
New comet will light up the sky.

Jeno Marz

Jeno Marz is a writer from Latvia, Northern Europe, with background in electronics engineering and computer science. Jeno is currently working on Falaha’s Journey, a xenocentric, hard science fiction trilogy of novellas. The first part of the trilogy, Descent (2012), and the second book, The Pit (2013), are now published. The third story of the trilogy will be released in June 2014. She loves to hear from readers, so please drop her a note!

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