66 thoughts on “Watch live updates on comet ISON

  1. Only 370,805.45mph? pffttt! ISON ain’t got nuthin’ on the NASCAR wannabees that pass me on my morning commute!

    (This is great. Thanks A-nt-ho-ny and Eric Berger)

  2. Thank you ( from all us amateur astronomers out there ) for posting something about this. I was thinking just an hour ago about writing a little article for submission as I was unsure you would cover this event.
    I’m sure your readers will want to follow this story given that it could soon be a spectacular sight in the South Eastern skies should it survive perihelion tomorrow.

    I for one am hoping it does as i’ve been out all month scouting viewing points to set up my cameras to shoot the comet during December.

    Readers may also find this helpful

    http://www.universetoday.com/106710/guide-to-safely-viewing-comet-ison-on-perihelion-day-novenber-28/

  3. AU is short for astronomical uit, ldd. 1 AU is the average distance from the earth to the sun (just under 93 million miles).

    Incidentally, its speed will increase a LOT between now and perihelion – think rollercoaster just reaching the top of the first drop :)

  4. “We (I assume they mean NASA) will point SDO at three different positions as Comet ISON moves through perihelion on November 28, 2013.” ” We plan to off-point at 17:30 UTC (12:30 pm ET) and return to normal solar observing at 20:45 UTC (3:45 pm ET). We will begin posting images after SDO completes the first repointing maneuver and we obtain and process the data. Images should begin appearing sometime between 12:45 pm and 1:00 pm ET.”
    See http://cometison.gsfc.nasa.gov/index/about for more info on this.

    OT — I’ve had problems with Flash player crashing more and more often, even though I updated it to the latest version. It crashed on the ad when I opened up wattsupwiththat this time. Wonder if anyone else has experienced issues with Flash?

  5. ahem.. not live updates, it’s a model

    REPLY: Yes but the speed and trajectory is a live update – A

  6. At its terminal high speed, it will not take much of a bit sunward falling debris to give it a huge jolt. That interactive dynamic map is amazing. Its hyperbolic trajectory makes it unlikely that even if it breaks up radically any bits of it would hit earth.

  7. clipe says:
    November 27, 2013 at 3:10 pm

    @littlepeaks

    Also check ad blocking software. (something I read over at BishopHill)

  8. clipe says:
    November 27, 2013 at 3:10 pm

    @littlepeaks

    One more suggestion. Try “private browsing” (Firefox-Internet Exploder)

  9. AnonyMoose says:

    November 27, 2013 at 3:09 pm

    ahem.. not live updates, it’s a model
    ===========
    So, would “live updates of the data provided so that we might provide some semblance of the trajectory of the comet for your viewing pleasure and enlightenment” work for you.
    Or do you need more ?

  10. Latest image from SOHO Lasco C3 of comet Ison as of about 40 minutes ago.

    Note there is another large CME going on right now which makes for the third one today.

  11. @clipe. Will try your suggestion about addons. Using SeaMonkey as a browser (related to FireFox). Not using ad-blocking software (although maybe I should).

    Thanks for suggestions.

  12. littlepeaks says:
    flash problem

    Another option is to disable hardware acceleration (pause video, rightclick on video, settings > disable hardware acceleration – sometimes the settings menu item will only appear in the full-screen mode)

  13. The Lasco 3C images are very interesting. If you copy any two images taken 15 minutes apart (the default update period) to your desktop and open them in separate windows, size and position them just right they’re perfect and perfectly gorgeous (3D) stereograms.

  14. Yes, I know that it’s a rather accurate estimate of the path, except for perturbations caused by things such as thrust caused by venting. And the trajectory information ignores what we most want to know: Does it break up? How visible is it? How visible will it be?

    Fortunately, we’ll soon find out about ISON’s behavior, unlike the delay in people finding out the difference between climate models and reality.

  15. Tom – imagine viewing the evening sky and Mercury has reached its widest apparent angle to the sun from our viewpoint – it is as far from the sun as it can appear. Now imagine Venus is just coming into view from the solar haze. Its orbit is very much farther from the sun than is Mercury, but because it is just emerging from behind the solar disk it appears closer to the sun owing to viewing angle. Over time as Venus’ orbit causes it to reach its maximum viewing angle from the sun it will catch up to and pass (in angular distance from the sun) Mercury. Mercury will be drawing angularly closer to the sun at the same time so it doesn’t take long.

  16. A couple of days ago the news was depressing as word came that the comet’s nucleus had likely disintigrated. Now the evidence indicates that it’s intact and brightening rapidly. This is getting excited. Latest projections I’ve seen indicate it will likely reach an apparent magnitude of -1 to -4. Maybe even visible during daylight.

    I can’t wait to see it and I really hope it doesn’t disappoint. This really could be unprecendented ;)

  17. Bill, I hope you’re right, but I’m holding off on getting excited. In my lifetime, every comet predicted to be spectacular has been a bust.

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    November 27, 2013 at 9:45 pm
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  19. Here’s another source for near-real-time images of Comet ISON and the Sun, from the SOHO (Solar and Heliospheric Observatory) satellite — http://sohowww.nascom.nasa.gov/data/realtime-images.html.

    Each image on the page is in a different wavelength. Click on a thumbnail image to get a 512×512 image; click on that to get a 1024×1024 image. The comet may not appear in the tight field of view of most of the channels, but it’s already visible in the L3 view and should be in the L2 view soon. (L2 and L3 denote images from the Large Angle and Spectrometric Coronagraph, an instrument on SOHO.)

  20. Whoops — I made a dumb copy-and-paste editing error. For L2 and L3, substitute LASCO C2 and LASCO C3 in that explanation.

  21. I take it that should Ison plunge into the sun, the flare it would trigger would be pretty spectacular. Just hope it doesn’t point our way.

  22. Bloke down the pub says:
    November 28, 2013 at 3:43 am
    I take it that should Ison plunge into the sun, the flare it would trigger would be pretty spectacular. Just hope it doesn’t point our way.

    I doubt the sun would even notice. Like a fly on an elephant’s backside.

  23. I may not be an expert on orbital mechanics, but when there is still supposed to be 5.5 hours to perihelion and yet velocity is decreasing and distance from the sun is increasing, someone made a mistake on their model…

  24. Latest pic from Lasco C3 as at 12:54 UTC, 40 minutes ago. Its near impossible to get updated images from SOHO right now so this is from a direct depository.

    We’ve certainly lost much of the comet coma in the last few hours.

  25. The cometison2013 site says that they’ve had to update their scripts. “Problems viewing the data? We’ve had to update all the JavaScript files for today so if you’re having problems viewing the data, make sure to refresh the page or try clearing your web browser’s cache.”

  26. CodeTech says:
    November 28, 2013 at 5:06 am

    I may not be an expert on orbital mechanics, but when there is still supposed to be 5.5 hours to perihelion and yet velocity is decreasing and distance from the sun is increasing, someone made a mistake on their model…

    I was going to mention that myself. My take is that it’s the velocity relative a radial from the Sun. If so, it will drop to zero at perihelion and start increasing (or contininue decreasing!) as it heads back out.

    If that’s right, 0 velocity will occur at maximum speed (a scalar term) and
    maximum kinetic energy.

    The distance to the Sun is 0.013 au, That means the gravitational acceleration due to the Sun on the comet is 6,000X what it is on me. I’m tempted to compute that today, though I’ve been trying to take time to work on frequency shifting wind turbine infrasound. Quiet Thanksgiving here!

  27. Ric Werme says….
    No, the speed mentioned in the box is the orbital speed, the speed in the orbit. This speed will be a maximum, not be zero, when the comet reaches the perihelion of its orbit.

  28. Not only does the widget show it slowing down as it approaches perihelion, it’s distance from the sun continues to increase, now over 2 million miles! I guess someone screwed up on the math.

  29. Jean Meeus says:
    November 28, 2013 at 7:06 am

    > Ric Werme says….
    > No, the speed mentioned in the box is the orbital speed,

    Hmm, I might have had the old Javascript running. Just now it was clear that perihelion had happened, reloading the page produced something that’s updating faster and shows the solar distance is still decreasing and speed increasing, as it must.

    One of the things about these grazing trajectories is they really whip around Sun/planet, the simulation shows it well. Peak speed will be around escape velocity.

  30. Kev-in-Uk says November 28, 2013 at 9:42 am

    just hit 800,000 mph – that’s a fair old lick of speed!

    If my math is correct, that’s a bit over 1/1000 * c (‘c’ being the speed-o-light) … that _is_ moving!

    .

  31. Final pic from Lasco C2 leaves more room for Ison still surviving than the second to last pic which was very tiny point-like.

  32. David says:
    November 28, 2013 at 10:38 am

    > It appears Comet ISON, like Icarus, flew too close to the Sun, and has suffered a similar fate.

    What’s your source? The ESA pix have the comet blocked and only the tail is exposed, it’ll take a while to get photos to show more recent tail material, let alone the nucleus.

  33. Bill Illis says:
    November 28, 2013 at 10:50 am

    Perhaps Bill – but my Mk 1 eyeball suggests it’s trajectory is darned close? I’d be surprised if it comes out the other side!

  34. Ric Werme says:
    November 28, 2013 at 11:02 am

    > What’s your source? The ESA pix have the comet blocked and only the tail is exposed, it’ll take a while to get photos to show more recent tail material, let alone the nucleus.

    Circumstantial evidence.
    1. Nothing appeared in the SDO images, which don’t have an occulting disk and therefore could have followed the comet through perihelion.
    2. In the STEREO Ahead images, the comet appears to go “poof” (technical term) just before perihelion. See: http://www.spaceweatherlive.com/en/comet-ison

    I could be wrong, but I don’t think so.

  35. David says:
    November 28, 2013 at 12:20 pm

    2. In the STEREO Ahead images, the comet appears to go “poof” (technical term) just before perihelion. See: http://www.spaceweatherlive.com/en/comet-ison

    That’s a pretty convincing poof. I suppose it could be that just the surface blew off and the cold core needs more time and heat to regenerate a tail, but I fear it’s time for the pity party. Dang comets are harder to predict than the climate.

  36. This is the message on the website Ric, I think we have seen the last of Ison.
    “There are reports that Comet ISON has not made it through its close encounter with the sun, however this data will remain here until this is confirmed by the appropriate organisations.”

  37. spaceweather.com is definitely saying ISON has gone, but from my view of LASCO C2 20:36UT (74 minutes ago) a small remnant has survived. Presumably this is going to be fairly faint once it moves away from the Sun’s glare though. I may need to get my 6″ telescope out to find it. Another “I could have been a player, man” comet…

    Rich.

  38. From http://www.isoncampaign.org/karl/schroedingers-comet , a theory agreeing with my suggestion it was still there:

    As comet ISON plunged towards to the Sun, it began to fall apart, losing not giant fragments but at least a lot of reasonably sized chunks. There’s evidence of very large dust in the form of that long thin tail we saw in the LASCO C2 images. Then, as ISON plunged through the corona, it continued to fall apart and vaporize, and lost its coma and tail completely just like Lovejoy did in 2011. (We have our theories as to why it didn’t show up in the SDO images but that’s not our story to tell – the SDO team will do that.) Then, what emerged from the Sun was a small but perhaps somewhat coherent nucleus, that has resumed emitting dust and gas for at least the time being. In essence, the tail is growing back, as Lovejoy’s did.

    But currently I can’t get any recent LASCO C2/C3 images.

    Amazing that there were no new comments since mine at 2:12pm, but I suppose that’s Thanksgiving for you.

    Rich.

  39. Gareth Phillips says:
    November 28, 2013 at 11:56 am
    “BBC are saying that the comet has not survived it’s scrape with the sun.”

    BBC has a complicated relationship with objective truth.

  40. DirkH says:
    November 29, 2013 at 5:47 pm

    BBC has a complicated relationship with objective truth.

    DirkH,

    Charitable way of putting it.

    Others who have a ‘complicated relationship with objective truth':

    Richard Nixon
    LBJ
    Bill Clinton
    Obama

    Others come to mind.

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