Scientists are calling it the comet of the century. Newly discovered comet ISON is due to make its spectacular appearance beginning November 2013 as it begins its close approach and whiplash around the sun.
It’s what happens afterwards that could be a problem…
Come ISON was only discovered one year ago, in September 2012, by two Russian astronomers of the International Scientific Optical Network (ISON).
Astronomers say it is a new (strong) comet coming from the Oort cloud which has never before slung around the sun, and therefore has never been weakened by the heat of sun like other periodic comets.
Not only that, but this comet is a sun-grazer, and is expected to violently erupt with geysers of gas, ice, and ‘dust’, as an extremely bright tail forms while it makes its close approach to being whiplashed around the sun beginning November 2012.
Our solar system is surrounded by an Oort cloud comprising many billions of comets. Occasionally one is jostled out, streams in to the sun, loops around, and sails back out.
At the time of this post, comet ISON is approaching the orbital plane of Mars and is streaking towards its closet distance to the sun which will occur on November 28.
Before that day, the heat from the sun will begin to shred bits and pieces from the comet as it forms a huge and magnificent tail behind it. It will become so bright and spectacular, that scientists say it will become brighter than the moon. And in fact, apparently it will be visible during the day!
The trajectory of comet ISON will cross the same orbital distance as the earth to the sun during very early November according to projections run on NASA’s JPL orbital simulator.
During the approach to the sun, the comet, or it’s tail will not be in earth’s path.
Incredibly, during a single day, November 28, ISON will whiplash completely and all the way around the sun on the way to its return towards earth and then back to wherever it came from.
If it survives the sun, and many believe that it stands a good chance, it will streak rapidly back outwards in the general direction towards earth, and ISON will make its closet physical approach to us on December 26.
On its current trajectory, comet ISON will not hit earth… so long as it doesn’t change when it passes very close to Mars and/or nothing changes as it sling-shot’s around the sun.
But here’s the thing…
During January, NASA calculated that comet ISON at that time was ejecting 122,000 tons of ‘matter’ every minute from its tail! The closer it gets to the sun, the more ‘matter’ is ejected…
This leaves a trailing ‘rain’ of comet dust, particles, and ‘matter’ behind in space.
According to my estimations, after ISON has sailed past us, earth will pass through the comet’s particle trail (the one when it was approaching the sun on its inbound leg,) and this will happen on or around January 12 – 15, 2014. This is remarkable.
ISON will have left the trail of debris on or close to November 1, at the spot where earth will transit mid January, just 10 to 11 weeks later.
Will it reign down fire from the sky?
Will we witness massive meteor ‘showers’?
NASA says that the space dust will be too small to affect us badly…
Comets are notoriously fickle.
What about this… ‘what if’ the nucleus of the comet explodes into smaller chunks as it swings around the sun? If the chunks survive, on what trajectory will they be? Could we be in danger? Of course no one knows. It hasn’t happened… yet.
One thing’s for sure – that it will likely be the brightest comet you will have ever seen in your lifetime. If it survives.
…thought you’d like to know.