Comet ISON update for November 5, 2013

Updated November 6, 2013.
Here is the latest image from Damian Peach and it shows that ISON’s tail is developing.

Original info:
Here are the latest and best images of Comet ISON from the past couple of days. The last update was on November 2, 2013. Today, Comet ISON moves from the constellation Leo to Virgo.

November 5

November 4

November 3

November 2

Here are a couple of news articles about Comet ISON from the past couple of days.

The comet may reach a magnitude of minus 6, or as bright as the planet Venus, when it reaches its closest point to the Sun on November 29th.

People in Japan should be able to see the comet and its long, bright tail in the eastern sky before sunrise.

 Late last month, NHK attached a Super Hi-Vision camera and single-lens reflex to a one-meter diameter telescope at an observatory in Tottori City, western Japan.

NHK News, 11/03/2013 article by NHK staff

During November, Comet ISON is expected to be visible just before sunrise as it approaches the sun. It should be visible after Nov. 13 (arbitrary date) to the naked eye in the eastern sky under ideal conditions. As it approaches the sun, it will get brighter. It is expected to be at perihelion on Nov. 28. Perihelion is the term used when a comet is closest to the sun. Comet ISON will be on the far side of the sun at perihelion.

Astronomers think Comet ISON is quite large. Consequently, astronomers think it should survive this close encounter, and it will become very bright with a large tail as it moves past the sun in early December. It should be visible after sunset.
St. Cloud Times, 11/01/2013 article by Dave Williams

Calculations of the orbital path of Comet ISON also indicate that it will sweep within a little more than a million miles of the sun’s visible disk or photosphere, at which time the sun will heat Comet ISON to some 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit, a temperature hot enough to melt nickel and iron.

In addition, if the head of Comet ISON doesn’t have the structural strength to hold itself together, the sun’s tidal forces will rip it apart. All of this could result in the formation of a considerable debris field of gas and dust, which are the constituents of a comet’s trademark tail. No one really knows what effect such a close passage to the sun will ultimately have on Comet ISON. Predictions range from a spectacular “comet of the century” scenario to a “cometary fizzle.”
The Coloradoan, 11/01/2013 article by Roger Culver

There are several big questions about ISON, some which have potential answers, and others where we will have to wait and see. In the end, we will still have to wait and see. The first big question is will Comet ISON become visible to the naked eye? If ISON becomes visible to the naked eye prior to perihelion on November 28th, it would more than likely happen sometime between the 18th and 28th. It would be very nice for ISON to become visible prior to the 18th. On the 18th, ISON will be located near Spica in the eastern sky in the early morning hours, so it should be easy to find if it does become visible. Otherwise, we will have to wait and see if it becomes visible prior to perihelion. ISON will appear lower in the sky each morning. On the morning of the 28th, if ISON is still around and visible to the naked eye, it will appear close to the sun. The Griffith Observatory made this graphic, with all times in Pacific Time to show what ISON’s orbital path will look like on the 28th, assuming it has not disintegrated.

The next big question is will Comet ISON survive its trip toward and around the sun or will it break up? This is a very good question, and no one can answer that question to a 100% degree certainty, but the odds are definitely against ISON, and that makes its trip exciting and very interesting. In one paper, ISON’s “chance to reaching perihelion is nearly 30%, therefore it wouldn’t be surprising, if it will disintegrate in following weeks.” If ISON disintegrates, it would look similar to Comet 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 3 in 2006.

Another paper noted the following,

…in the 1-2 weeks bracketing perihelion, a significant part of the original surface will be exposed to strong sunlight for the first time. Since the original surface is formed and possibly altered by galactic cosmic rays when the comet was stored in the OC for billions of years (Stern 1990), the newly illuminated surface could still retain a much higher abundance of very volatile materials, such as CO and/or CO2. The sudden exposure to extremely strong sunlight could trigger enormous outbursts. It will be interesting to see if the first exposure of the nearly pristine surface can be detected by observations near perihelion.

What would be interesting is if ISON became visible to the naked eye, survived its trip toward the sun, and disintegrated or plunged into the sun. That would be an interesting sight to see with NASA’s equipment.

If ISON survives perihelion after November 28th, it will begin its long journey outward toward the Oort Cloud.

Here are the latest and best photos of Comet C/2013 R1 (Lovejoy).

November 5

November 4

November 3

November 2

And finally, here are the best photos from the hybrid solar eclipse on November 3rd.


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