Comet ISON and the Planet Nibiru Conspiracy Theory

There is an Internet conspiracy theory floating around that Comet ISON is barreling down the Solar System and is in fact Nibiru. This is not the case.

Let’s look at few things first.

According to Wikipedia, Nibiru is a term from the ancient Akkadian language, which means “crossing” or “point of translation”, especially of rivers. It’s thought of as another Akkadian term for the highest point of the ecliptic.

In more recent history author Zecharia Sitchin proposed in his 1976 book The 12th Planet that somewhere beyond the orbit of Nepture, there is a planet called Nibiru. The proposed planet has a long, elliptical orbit, and reaches the inner Solar System every 3,600 years.

In the Sitchin’s book, 12 planets are discussed and are listed in the below graphic (Luna is Earth’s moon).

Artistic depiction of Sitchin's book.

Artistic depiction of the planets from Sitchin’s book.

The mainstream view is that the sun is not a planet but a star, and that Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune are the 8 major planets and that Pluto is designated as a dwarf planet.

Distance and Visibility
On September 21, 2012, Comet C/2012 S1 (ISON) was discovered by Vitali Nevski (Виталий Невский, Vitebsk, Belarus) and Artyom Novichonok (Артём Новичонок, Kondopoga, Russia) around 01:15 UT.

On September 21, 2012, Comet ISON was approximately 6.293 AU from the sun. That’s over 584.97+ million miles (941.42+ million kilometers). It was at magnitude +18.8, which means it was extremely faint and not visible to the naked eye. It was also difficult to find via telescopes without knowing its exact position.

On the same date, Jupiter was approximately 5.034 AU from the sun. That’s over 468+ million miles (753.1+ million kilometers). Jupiter has an average magnitude of -1.97, which means it’s easily visible to the naked eye. On the same date, Saturn was approximately 9.781 AU from the sun. That’s over 909.2+ million miles (1463+ million kilometers). Saturn has an average magnitude of +0.125, which means it’s also visible to the naked eye.

Uranus has an apparent magnitude of +5.93 and Neptune has an apparent magnitude of +7.93. Both of these planets are not visible to the naked eye. Dwarf planet Pluto has an apparent magnitude of +14 and is not visible to the naked eye.

Four months later on January 30, 2013, the NASA’s Swift Telescope observed Comet ISON when it was at magnitude +15.7, which is about 5,000 times fainter than the threshold of human vision.

What does this all mean?

This means on September 21, 2012, when Comet ISON was discovered, it had a magnitude of +18.8, a magnitude fainter in visibility than dwarf planet Pluto’s magnitude of +14, which at the time was 32.14 AU from the sun. If Comet ISON was not a comet and actually a planet like Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, Uranus, or smaller one like Mars, it would have definitely been visible to the naked eye. Since it was between the orbits of Jupiter and Saturn, anyone in the world would have been able to go outside and view it without the assistance of any large telescope or any sort of notification from NASA or news network. Anyone with a night sky app on their phone would have been able to distinguish a mysterious small to large bright speck in the sky in moving over the course of a few months between the constellations Cancer and Gemini. Instead, since it is a comet, everyone in the world must wait till later in 2013 when Comet ISON will eventually become visible to the naked eye when it becomes closer to the sun.

Size Comparisons
Saturn has a diameter of approximately 71,229 miles (114,630 km). That’s approximately 9.001 Earth diameters.
Jupiter has a diameter of approximately 85,964 miles (138,350 km). That’s approximately 10.863 Earth diameters.
Mars has a diameter of approximately 4208 miles (6772 km). That’s approximately 0.5318 Earth diameters.

Earth has a diameter of approximately 7913.1 miles (12,735 km).
Earth’s moon has a diameter of approximately 2159.3 miles (3475 km). That’s larger than dwarf planet Pluto’s diameter of 1458 miles (2346 km) but smaller than Mercury’s diameter of 3031.9 miles (4879.4 km).

Distance from Dallas to San Francisco

The distance from the Reunion Tower in Dallas, Texas to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California.

Superimposed on Earth, the diameter of dwarf planet Pluto would fit within the distance from the Reunion Tower in Dallas, Texas to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California, which is approximately 1486 miles. You can use Google Earth to plot a measurement from Reunion Tower to the Golden Gate Bridge to get similar measurements like those pictured above.

The diameter of Comet ISON's nucleus is approximately 3.1 miles (4.99 km).

The diameter of Comet ISON’s nucleus is approximately 3.1 miles (4.99 km).

Based on observations by NASA’s Swift Telescope, the nucleus, or body of Comet ISON is approximately 3.1 miles (4.99 km). To put this into perspective, the diameter of the nucleus, the main rocky and icy body of Comet ISON would be the same distance as a drive in downtown Dallas, Texas. You can use Google Earth to plot a measurement on any major city to get an idea of what 3.1 miles (4.99 km) looks like.

Diagram of a Comet.

Diagram of a Comet.

Comet ISON’s coma, which is a cloud of gas, is approximately 3,100 miles across, or 1.2 times the width of Australia. Since Comet ISON is a comet and not a planet or a moon, it has a dust tail. On January 30, 2013, NASA’s Swift Telescope observed that Comet ISON’s dust tail extended more than 57,000 miles. It’s expected to become visible as it approaches the sun and reaches perihelion later this year on November 28, 2013.

As a comparison, Comet Halley’s tail was approximately 13.67 million miles (22 million km) on February 22, 1986, thirteen days after it reached perihelion on February 9, 1986.

Still not convinced?

Is Comet ISON, Nibiru? NO.

Is Comet ISON, Nibiru? NO.

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