ISON Survives After A fashoion

Image Credit: 
ESA/NASA/SOHO/Jhelioviewer

Image Credit:  ESA/NASA/SOHO/Jhelioviewer

Image Credit:
ESA/NASA/SOHO/Jhelioviewer

On Thanksgiving day comet ISON grazed the sun. News at first looked grim for the 3 mile wide bit of ice and dust from the outer reaches of our solar system. The first reports were that the comet had not survived. Two telescopes did not see it emerge on the other side of the sun and it was thought that the comet had either been torn apart by the immense gravity or been vaporized by the extreme temperatures.

Then, the following day reports from other telescopes came in and it appears that the comet, or more accurately, a part of it, did survive. Check out this video from the Solar and Heilotrophic Observatory

It’s still too early to know precisely what happened and how much of the comet survived but it appears that some part of it did. Will it get as bright as some had hoped? Unlikely but still possible.

Weekend Blogging

As you know, gentle reader, I have recently gotten a new job and as a result I’ve been far too busy and exhausted to blog daily. For that I do apologize. I’ve been trying to figure out a way to keep this blog going with my schedule the way it is.

At first I thought I could write up a bunch of posts on the weekends and pre-schedule them to post during the week. That hasn’t worked out all that well, as you can tell. It takes so much time to do the research and write a decent blog post that it was eating up my weekends to write 5 posts. So I’ve decided just to blog on the weekends. A couple posts won’t take up too much time and I can give you something fairly well written and, hopefully, interesting to read about.

Today is Thanksgiving, I hope you all have a happy one. Comet ISON is going ’round the sun and we will learn her fate here before too much longer. Enjoy your family, enjoy your friends and be thankful for what you have, however little or much it may be.

ISON Slingshots Around The Sun On Thanksgiving

Comet ISON, NASA

Comet ISON, NASA

Comet ISON, NASA

Comet ISON is about to be out of view from Earth as it slingshots around the sun. The 3 mile wide chunk of primeval ice from the birth of our solar system will skim barely over the surface of the sun, just 1.1 million miles away, classifying it as a Sungrazing comet . In fact it is a large Sungrazing comet and as such is of particular interest. If the temperature doesn’t vaporize the rock and ice that make up the comet, the colossal gravity of our sun could well tear it apart.

Already astronomers think some pieces of the comet have broken off, creating wing-like structures and resulting in the brightening that has been observed in recent days. If ISON isn’t pulled into the Sun by gravity, and it’s moving pretty fast so there’s a good chance it might survive the close approach, then in December it’ll round the other side and possibly be even more spectacular than it has been.

To see Comet ISON the best thing to do is get in touch with your local amateur astronomers club or science museum. This is just the kind of thing that science museums, local observatories and astronomers clubs like to cooperate on. We drove out to a state park to get outside of the glare from the city and some very kind folks allowed us to look through the eye-piece of their gorgeous 8″ telescope that they had painstakingly set up and sighted on ISON already.

Mercury was gorgeous, ISON was amazing, we also saw Jupiter, Orion, Vega and the Pleadies. Sure we were up before sunrise and it was cold but a few mugs of hot chocolate or coffee and it was an adventure that everyone enjoyed. It’s a memory that will last a lifetime, especially since ISON has never been seen by our species before. Astronomers think this is the first time it has come into the inner solar system from the Oort cloud approximately 1 light year away and there is a good chance it’ll never be seen again by our kind. ISON has spent the last 4.5 billion years in the Oort cloud.

Even now there is uncertainty as to what will become of ISON. Will it survive Sungrazing our own star? Will it plunge into the stellar inferno? Will it survive only to be ejected from our solar system entirely? Or will it fly back out into the Oort cloud from whence it came and return again in 190 million years – 350 million years or more? Because no one knows what will happen when it slingshots around the sun, no one knows for certain what ISON’s ultimate fate is just yet.

ISON NASA Deep Impact Spacecraft

ISON NASA Deep Impact Spacecraft

Stargazing, comet watching, these are the kinds of things that families and communities can do together for very little money. Our local science museum had people on hand to talk about the comet and our solar system. Next time I’m bringing a couple dozen doughnuts to share.

Doctor Who: Day of the Doctor

Day of The Doctor courtesy BBCAmerica

Day of The Doctor courtesy BBCAmerica

Day of The Doctor courtesy BBCAmerica

Well as I’m sure you know, since the interwebz is all agog about it and has been for at least 6 months, today is the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who. Very few television shows have moved me the way Doctor Who has. When I watched The Name of The Doctor, when it first aired some months ago, I turned off the television when it was over because I was done with the TV for the rest of the day. There was nothing that could compete with what I had just seen. That’s how much it impacted me, how much it moved me. Today BBC America brilliantly ran that episode right before the Day of The Doctor, heightening the impact and I had goosebumps for the last quarter of the show. It was incredible.

My only quibble is that by showing the 20 minutes of blathering between the end of The Name of The Doctor and the Day of The Doctor they lessened the emotion they had so painstakingly created. Showing the Day of The Doctor commercial free was brilliant though.

I’m a bit of a newcomer to Doctor Who. My first Doctor is Matt Smith and the very first episode I ever saw was The Beast Below. That’s how new I am to this whole phenomena. I love all of the different doctors, I love the rich history of the show and I love how true it stays to its science fiction roots. I truly enjoyed seeing the different doctors in The Day of The Doctor. Another nice touch I thought was including all of the very most favorite doctors, Tennant, Baker, Eccleston, Smith. Everyone has their favorites but when I talk to Doctor Who fans those four seem to top the list. I think each doctor has his own charm and I like them all, although I must confess that as my first doctor Matt Smith has a special Doctor Who place in my heart. As much as I adore Matt Smith, I am sure I will also like the new doctor: Peter Capaldi. I enjoyed the forgotten Doctor: John Hur. To have a lost or missing doctor in a story spanning 50 years of our time and who knows how long story time just added to the depth of the legend.

I look forward to the Christmas special, despite knowing that Matt Smith will turn over the mantle of Doctor. K.