Comet PANSTARRS around April 7, 2013

{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.