Get the latest news and information on Comet ISON as it plunges towards the Sun:
NASA • Comet ISON Observing Campaign
SDO • Solar Dynamics Observatory (Real-time ISON Updates by SDO satellites)
STEREO • Stereo instruments prepare for ISON
LATEST VIDEO • NASA/STEREO Video Shows ISON Approaching the Sun
SUNGRAZER ALERT • Comet ISON will have a close encounter with the Sun on November 28, 2013.
(YELLOWKNIFE, NORTHWEST TERRITORIES) Northern skywatchers are anxiously awaiting Comet ISON’s flyby of the inner solar system in late November and early December. Earlier this year hopes were high that this mountain-sized object would emerge from behind the Sun in early December with a spectacular tail (or two) that would enable ISON to meet its “Comet of the Century” expectations. The latest scoop, however, suggests this icy ball of interplanetary dirt may not even survive its close encounter with the Sun, and could break apart on approach.
For ISON to become a star attraction it must pass a huge test of strength on November 28 – that’s when heat, speed and gravitational forces increase as this sungrazing comet is hurled around the Sun, passing a mere 1.3 million kilometres from the solar surface.
ISON’S JOURNEY • A closer look at Comet ISON’s path as it blazes through the inner solar system.
What’s left of the comet is expected to emerge on December 1, and skywatchers will be glued to the Eastern horizon just before sunrise – one way or another there will be plenty to talk about. Everyone will be hoping to see is a streak of ice and dust rising above the horizon just before sunrise, but many experts believe they will see nothing more than a shattered comet with a not-so-impressive debris field, or, perhaps nothing at all (evidence of a magnificent meltdown).
For those who enjoy optimism, the best opportunity to see ISON will be just before sunrise December 1-10, 2013. The best viewing dates will be December 3-6, 2013 when ISON is bright enough for naked eye observation, and far enough away from the Sun to rise above the SE horizon for about an hour before the Sun floods the sky with light. As the comet increases its distance from the Sun it will rise higher in the pre-dawn sky before sunrise, but as the week goes on, the comet will lose intensity. By mid December, the show will pretty much be over, but the debate about how to forecast “Comet of the Century” sungrazers is certain to last for a long, long time.
For sunrise times in December, click on the appropriate community below:
(YELLOWKNIFE, NORTHWEST TERRITORIES) The capital of the Northwest Territories is about to become the first community in the world to have its own space weather alert system! On Friday night, an array of Northern Lighthouses will illuminate at locations across the city, marking the official launch of The Northern Lighthouse Project. For more information, check out today’s PRESS RELEASE