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Anticipation rises as Comet ISON approaches the sun. Will Comet ISON become the comet of the century?

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Written by Melissa Mascarin on
Post Date: 
Thu, 2013/11/21

TORONTO, CANADA (November 15, 2013) – Will Comet ISON be the Comet of the Century???

The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC),  the astronomical and scientific communities are eagerly anticipating Comet ISON’s appearance on November 28th.

First spotted in September 2012 by amateur astronomers Vitali Nevski and Artyom Novichonok, Comet ISON was 1 billion km from Earth in the constellation of Cancer .On Nov. 28, 2013, ISON is expected to get as close as 1.2 million km from the sun, categorizing it as a “Sun Grazing” comet. If the comet survives--a big IF--it could emerge bright enough to be briefly visible near the sun in broad daylight.

The Sun’s Tidal forces and solar radiation have been known to destroy comets, most recently with Comet Elenin, which broke apart and dissipated in 2011 as it approached the sun. Comet Lovejoy, which also flew through the sun's atmosphere in 2011, managed to emerge intact and wowed observers with a garish tail for weeks. Comet ISON is probably at least twice as big as Comet Lovejoy and will pass a bit farther from the sun’s surface so enthusiasts are optimistic that ISON could survive and put on a great show.

Whatever happens, northern sky watchers will get a good view. For months after it swings by the sun, Comet ISON will be well placed for observers in the northern hemisphere.  It will pass almost directly over the North Pole, making it a circumpolar object visible all night long.

What should you do?

1.     Look for activities happening at RASC centres, http://www.rasc.ca/locations-across-canada;

2.     The RASC’s Observers Handbook offers tips on observing, drawing, locating and photographing comets;

3.     Gather information from reliable science-based reports

a.       http://www.rasc.ca/

b.      http://science1.nasa.gov/science-news/

c.       http://www.universetoday.com

Founded in 1868, the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada is Canada's leading astronomy organization bringing together more than 4,200 enthusiastic amateurs, educators and professionals. RASC and its 29 Centres across Canada offer both national and local programming and services. RASC is dedicated to the Advancement of Astronomy and Allied Sciences and stimulating and inspiring interest to promote and increase knowledge in astronomy and related sciences in Canada.

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For more information please contact:

Deborah Thompson, Executive Director

E: thompson@rasc.ca

T: 416- 924-7973 or 888-924-7272 (toll free in Canada)