Comets ISON and Hale Bop

Comet ISON to be visible to the naked eye by November 2013 in the Northen Hemisphere

It could be brighter than any comet of the past century and may even be visible in DAYLIGHT.   Discovered by Russian astronomers, ISON is thought to originate from the Oort Cloud and may end up crashing into the Sun
Comet Hale Bop above Alaska

Comet Hale Bop above Alaska

TOP NEWS from Reuters
Fri, Dec 28 22:29 PM GMT

By Irene Klotz

(Reuters) – A comet blazing toward Earth could outshine the full moon when it passes by at the end of next year – if it survives its close encounter with the sun.

The recently discovered object, known as comet ISON, is due to fly within 1.2 million miles (1.9 million km) from the center of the sun on November 28, 2013 said astronomer Donald Yeomans, head of NASA’s Near Earth Object Program at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

As the comet approaches, heat from the sun will vaporize ices in its body, creating what could be a spectacular tail that is visible in Earth’s night sky without telescopes or even binoculars from about October 2013 through January 2014.

If the comet survives, that is.

Comet ISON could break apart as it nears the sun, or it could fail to produce a tail of ice particles visible from Earth.

Celestial visitors like Comet ISON hail from the Oort Cloud, a cluster of frozen rocks and ices that circle the sun about 50,000 times farther away than Earth’s orbit. Every so often, one will be gravitationally bumped out from the cloud and begin a long solo orbit around the sun.

On September 21, two amateur astronomers from Russia spotted what appeared to be a comet in images taken by a 16-inch (0.4-meter) telescope that is part of the worldwide International Scientific Optical Network, or ISON, from which the object draws its name.

“The object was slow and had a unique movement. But we could not be certain that it was a comet because the scale of our images are quite small and the object was very compact,” astronomer Artyom Novichonok, one of the discoverers, wrote in a comets email list hosted by Yahoo.

Novichonok and co-discoverer Vitali Nevski followed up the next night with a bigger telescope at the Maidanak Observatory in Uzbekistan. Other astronomers did likewise, confirming the object, located beyond Jupiter’s orbit in the constellation Cancer, was indeed a comet.

“It’s really rare, exciting,” Novichonok wrote.

Comet ISON’s path is very similar to a comet that passed by Earth in 1680, one which was so bright its tail reportedly could be seen in daylight.

The projected orbit of comet ISON is so similar to the 1680 comet that some scientists are wondering if they are fragments from a common parent body.

“Comet ISON…could be the brightest comet seen in many generations – brighter even than the full moon,” wrote British astronomer David Whitehouse in The Independent.

In 2013, Earth has two shots at a comet show. Comet Pan-STARRS is due to pass by the planet in March, eight months before ISON’s arrival.

NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover may be able to provide a preview.

Comet ISON is due to pass by the red planet in September and could be a target for the rover from its vantage point inside Gale Crater.

The last comet to dazzle Earth’s night-time skies was Comet Hale-Bopp, which visited in 1997. Comet 17P/Holmes made a brief appearance in 2007.

(Editing by Kevin Gray and Leslie Gevirtz)

Halebopp031197

Comet Hale-Bopp. Author shot this image at Zab...

Comet Hale-Bopp observed from the MIR space st...

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A Wonderful Calendar of 2013 Celestial Events

  •  January 3, 4 – Quadrantids Meteor Shower. The Quadrantids are an above average shower, with up to 40 meteors per hour at their peak. The shower usually peaks on January 3 & 4, but some meteors can be visible from January 1 – 5. The near last quarter moon will hide many of the fainter meteors with its glare. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Look for meteors radiating from the constellation Bootes.
Jupiter Occultation of July 15 2012 from Macedonia

Jupiter Occultation of July 15 2012 from Macedonia

  • January 11 – New Moon. The Moon will be directly between the Earth and the Sun and will not be visible from Earth. This phase occurs at 19:44 UTC.
  • January 27 – Full Moon. The Moon will be directly opposite the Earth from the Sun and will be fully illuminated as seen from Earth. This phase occurs at 04:38 UTC.
  • February 10 – New Moon. The Moon will be directly between the Earth and the Sun and will not be visible from Earth. This phase occurs at 07:20 UTC.
  • View of asteroid 2012 DA14's close pass by Earth on Feb. 15, 2013.

    In this oblique view, the path of near-Earth asteroid 2012 DA14 is seen passing close to Earth on Feb. 15, 2013.
    CREDIT: NASA/JPL Near-Earth Object Program Office

  • Discovery image of the newfound comet C/2011 L4 (PANSTARRS), taken by Hawaii's Pan-STARRS 1 telescope.

    Discovery image of the newfound comet C/2011 L4 (PANSTARRS), taken by Hawaii’s Pan-STARRS 1 telescope.
    CREDIT: Institute for Astronomy/University of Hawaii/Pan-STARRS

  • February 25 – Full Moon. The Moon will be directly opposite the Earth from the Sun and will be fully illuminated as seen from Earth. This phase occurs at 20:26 UTC.
  • March 11 – New Moon. The Moon will be directly between the Earth and the Sun and will not be visible from Earth. This phase occurs at 19:51 UTC.
  • March 20 – March Equinox. The March equinox occurs at 11:02 UTC. The Sun will shine directly on the equator and there will be nearly equal amounts of day and night throughout the world. This is also the first day of spring (vernal equinox) in the northern hemisphere and the first day of fall (autumnal equinox) in the southern hemisphere.
  • March 27 – Full Moon. The Moon will be directly opposite the Earth from the Sun and will be fully illuminated as seen from Earth. This phase occurs at 09:27 UTC.
  • a lunar halo

Lunar Halo – Lunar and solar halos are caused when light passes through ice crystals formed in clouds through the sky. Credit: Shingo Takei

  • April 10 – New Moon. The Moon will be directly between the Earth and the Sun and will not be visible from Earth. This phase occurs at 09:35 UTC.
  • April 20 – Astronomy Day Part 1. Astronomy Day is an annual event intended to provide a means of interaction between the general public and various astronomy enthusiasts, groups and professionals. The theme of Astronomy Day is “Bringing Astronomy to the People,” and on this day astronomy and stargazing clubs and other organizations around the world will plan special events. You can find out about special local events by contacting your local astronomy club or planetarium. You can also find more about Astronomy Day by checking the Web site for theAstronomical League.
This SDO image shows the Sun at 171 Angstroms just before the flare erupted from the active region. Credit: NASA/SDO
This SDO image shows the Sun at 171 Angstroms just before the flare erupted from an active region. Credit: NASA/SDO  (Via Sen)
  • April 21, 22 – Lyrids Meteor Shower. The Lyrids are an average shower, usually producing about 20 meteors per hour at their peak. These meteors can produce bright dust trails that last for several seconds. The shower usually peaks on April 21 & 22, although some meteors can be visible from April 16 – 25. The gibbous moon could be a problem this year, hiding many of the fainter meteors in its glare. It will set before sunrise, providing a short window of dark skies. Look for meteors radiating from the constellation of Lyra after midnight.
  • April 25 – Full Moon. The Moon will be directly opposite the Earth from the Sun and will be fully illuminated as seen from Earth. This phase occurs at 19:57 UTC.
  • April 25 – Partial Lunar Eclipse. The eclipse will be visible throughout most of Africa, Europe, Asia, and Australia.
    (NASA Map and Eclipse Information)
  • April 28 – Saturn at Opposition. The ringed planet will be at its closest approach to Earth and its face will be fully illuminated by the Sun. This is the best time to view and photograph Saturn and its moons.
  • May 5, 6 – Eta Aquarids Meteor Shower. The Eta Aquarids are a light shower, usually producing about 10 meteors per hour at their peak. The shower’s peak usually occurs on May 5 & 6, however viewing should be good on any morning from May 4 – 7. The crescent moon will hang around for the show, but should not cause too many problems. The radiant point for this shower will be in the constellation Aquarius. Best viewing is usually to the east after midnight, far from city lights.
  • May 10 – New Moon. The Moon will be directly between the Earth and the Sun and will not be visible from Earth. This phase occurs at 00:28 UTC.
  • May 10 – Annular Solar Eclipse. The path of annularity will begin in western Australia and move east across the central Pacific Ocean. (NASA Map and Eclipse Information)
  • May 25 – Full Moon. The Moon will be directly opposite the Earth from the Sun and will be fully illuminated as seen from Earth. This phase occurs at 04:25 UTC.
  • May 28 – Conjunction of Venus and Jupiter. The two bright planets will be within 1 degree of each other in the evening sky. The planet Mercury will also will also be visible nearby. Look to the west near sunset.
  • May 25 – Penumbral Lunar Eclipse. The eclipse will be visible throughout most of North America, South America, western Europe, and western Africa. (NASA Map and Eclipse Information)
  • June 8 – New Moon. The Moon will be directly between the Earth and the Sun and will not be visible from Earth. This phase occurs at 15:56 UTC.
  • June 21 – June Solstice. The June solstice occurs at 05:04 UTC. The North Pole of the earth will be tilted toward the Sun, which will have reached its northernmost position in the sky and will be directly over the Tropic of Cancer at 23.44 degrees north latitude. This is the first day of summer (summer solstice) in the northern hemisphere and the first day of winter (winter solstice) in the southern hemisphere.
  • June 8 – New Moon. The Moon will be directly between the Earth and the Sun and will not be visible from Earth. This phase occurs at 15:56 UTC.
  • June 23 – Full Moon. The Moon will be directly opposite the Earth from the Sun and will be fully illuminated as seen from Earth. This phase occurs at 11:32 UTC.

full moon france

The first of two full moons in August rises over Paris, France in this night sky photo. Astrophotographer VegaStar Carpentier took this photo Aug. 1, 2012 from Paris, France using a Canon EOS 1000D.

  • July 8 – New Moon. The Moon will be directly between the Earth and the Sun and will not be visible from Earth. This phase occurs at 07:14 UTC.
  • July 22 – Full Moon. The Moon will be directly opposite the Earth from the Sun and will be fully illuminated as seen from Earth. This phase occurs at 18:15 UTC.
  • July 28, 29 – Southern Delta Aquarids Meteor Shower. The Delta Aquarids can produce about 20 meteors per hour at their peak. The shower usually peaks on July 28 & 29, but some meteors can also be seen from July 18 – August 18. The radiant point for this shower will be in the constellation Aquarius. The last quarter moon will be around for the show and may hide some of the fainter meteors. Best viewing is usually to the east after midnight.
  • August 6 – New Moon. The Moon will be directly between the Earth and the Sun and will not be visible from Earth. This phase occurs at 21:51 UTC.
  • August 12, 13 – Perseids Meteor Shower. The Perseids is one of the best meteor showers to observe, producing up to 60 meteors per hour at their peak. The shower’s peak usually occurs on August 13 & 14, but you may be able to see some meteors any time from July 23 – August 22. The radiant point for this shower will be in the constellation Perseus. The near first quarter moon will set before midnight, leaving optimal conditions and dark skies for what should be an awesome show. Find a location far from city lights and look to the northeast after midnight.
  • August 21 – Full Moon. The Moon will be directly opposite the Earth from the Sun and will be fully illuminated as seen from Earth. This phase occurs at 01:45 UTC.
  • August 27 – Neptune at Opposition. The blue planet will be at its closest approach to Earth and its face will be fully illuminated by the Sun. This is the best time to view Neptune. Due to its distance, it will only appear as a tiny blue dot in all but the most powerful telescopes.
  • September 5 – New Moon. The Moon will be directly between the Earth and the Sun and will not be visible from Earth. This phase occurs at 11:36 UTC.
  • September 19 – Full Moon. The Moon will be directly opposite the Earth from the Sun and will be fully illuminated as seen from Earth. This phase occurs at 11:13 UTC.
  • September 22 – September Equinox. The September equinox occurs at 20:44 UTC. The Sun will shine directly on the equator and there will be nearly equal amounts of day and night throughout the world. This is also the first day of fall (autumnal equinox) in the northern hemisphere and the first day of spring (vernal equinox) in the southern hemisphere.
  • October 3 – Uranus at Opposition. The blue-green planet will be at its closest approach to Earth and its face will be fully illuminated by the Sun. This is the best time to view Uranus. Due to its distance, it will only appear as a tiny blue-green dot in all but the most powerful telescopes.
  • October 12 – Astronomy Day Part 2. Astronomy Day is an annual event intended to provide a means of interaction between the general public and various astronomy enthusiasts, groups and professionals. The theme of Astronomy Day is “Bringing Astronomy to the People,” and on this day astronomy and stargazing clubs and other organizations around the world will plan special events. You can find out about special local events by contacting your local astronomy club or planetarium. You can also find more about Astronomy Day by checking the Web site for theAstronomical League.
  • October 5 – New Moon. The Moon will be directly between the Earth and the Sun and will not be visible from Earth. This phase occurs at 00:34 UTC.
  • October 18 – Full Moon. The Moon will be directly opposite the Earth from the Sun and will be fully illuminated as seen from Earth. This phase occurs at 23:38 UTC.
  • October 18 – Penumbral Lunar Eclipse. The eclipse will be visible throughout most of the world except for Australia and extreme eastern Siberia. (NASA Map and Eclipse Information)
  • October 21, 22 – Orionids Meteor Shower. The Orionids is an average shower producing about 20 meteors per hour at their peak. This shower usually peaks on the 21st, but it is highly irregular. A good show could be experienced on any morning from October 20 – 24, and some meteors may be seen any time from October 17 – 25. The gibbous moon will be a problem this year, hiding all but the brightest meteors with its glare. Best viewing will be to the east after midnight. Be sure to find a dark location far from city lights.
  • November 3 – New Moon. The Moon will be directly between the Earth and the Sun and will not be visible from Earth. This phase occurs at 12:50 UTC.
  • November 3 – Hybrid Solar Eclipse. The eclipse path will begin in the Atlantic Ocean off the eastern coast of the United States and move east across the Atlantic and across central Africa. (NASA Map and Eclipse Information)
  • November 17 – Full Moon. The Moon will be directly opposite the Earth from the Sun and will be fully illuminated as seen from Earth. This phase occurs at 15:16 UTC.
  • November 17, 18 – Leonids Meteor Shower. The Leonids is one of the better meteor showers to observe, producing an average of 40 meteors per hour at their peak. The shower itself has a cyclic peak year every 33 years where hundreds of meteors can be seen each hour. The last of these occurred in 2001. The shower usually peaks on November 17 & 18, but you may see some meteors from November 13 – 20. The full moon will prevent this from being a great show this year, but with up to 40 meteors per hour possible, this could still be a good show. Look for the shower radiating from the constellation Leo after midnight.
  • December 3 – New Moon. The Moon will be directly between the Earth and the Sun and will not be visible from Earth. This phase occurs at 00:22 UTC.
  • December 13, 15 – Geminids Meteor Shower. Considered by many to be the best meteor shower in the heavens, the Geminids are known for producing up to 60 multicolored meteors per hour at their peak. The peak of the shower usually occurs around December 13 & 14, although some meteors should be visible from December 6 – 19. The radiant point for this shower will be in the constellation Gemini. The gibbous moon could be a problem this year, hiding man of the fainter meteors. But with up to 60 meteors per hour predicted, this should still be a good show. Best viewing is usually to the east after midnight from a dark location.
  • December 17 – Full Moon. The Moon will be directly opposite the Earth from the Sun and will be fully illuminated as seen from Earth. This phase occurs at 09:28 UTC.
  • Legend for astronomy calendar icons
  • December 21 – December Solstice. The December solstice occurs at 17:11 UTC. The South Pole of the earth will be tilted toward the Sun, which will have reached its southernmost position in the sky and will be directly over the Tropic of Capricorn at 23.44 degrees south latitude. This is the first day of winter (winter solstice) in the northern hemisphere and the first day of summer (summer solstice) in the southern hemisphere.
  • President Obama's 2013 budget proposal slashes space science and planetary missions.

    Via Space dot Com

  • President Barack Obama unveiled his proposed federal budget for 2013 today (Feb. 13), which includes $17.7 billion for NASA and requires painful cuts to the agency’s Mars exploration plans that are already drawing criticism from astronomers. NASA’s portion of the proposed 2013 budget features a cut on planetary science missions, but includes some funding boosts for space technology and human exploration. See how planetary science fares in 2013 for NASA in the above SPACE.com infographic.

Lunar Eclipses and Future Events

Lunar eclipses occur when Earth’s shadow blocks the sun’s light, which otherwise reflects off the moon. There are three types, with the most dramatic being a total lunar eclipse, in which Earth’s shadow completely covers the moon.

The last lunar eclipse was on Nov. 28, 2012. The next lunar eclipse is on April 25, 2013. It will be a partial eclipse, visible from Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia. But a month later, on May 25, a penumbral eclipse will be visible from the Americas and Africa.

A Montage of a Lunar Eclipse

A Montage of a Lunar Eclipse

This Story but not all photos via Space dot Com

Throughout history, eclipses have inspired awe and even fear, especially when total lunar eclipses turned the moon blood-red, an effect that terrified people who had no understanding of what causes an eclipse and therefore blamed the events on this god or that. Below, you’ll find the science and history of lunar eclipses, learn how they work, and see a list of the next ones on tap. [See also our guide to Solar Eclipses.]

This montage of images taken by skywatcher Kieth Burns shows the Dec. 20, 2010 total lunar eclipse. The photos won a NASA contest to become an official NASA/JPL wallpaper for the public.
This montage of images taken by skywatcher Kieth Burns shows the Dec. 20, 2010 total lunar eclipse. The photos won a NASA contest to become an official NASA/JPL wallpaper for the public.
CREDIT: NASA/JPL-via Kieth Burns

What is a Lunar Eclipse?

A lunar eclipse can occur only at full moon. A total lunar eclipse can happen only when the sun, Earth and moon are perfectly lined up — anything less than perfection creates a partial lunar eclipse or no eclipse at all. Some understanding of simple celestial mechanics explains how lunar eclipses work. [Infographic: Total Eclipse of the Moon]

Because the moon’s orbit around Earth lies in a slightly different plane than Earth’s orbit around the sun, perfect alignment for an eclipse doesn’t occur at every full moon. A total lunar eclipse develops over time, typically a couple hours for the whole event. Here’s how it works: Earth casts two shadows that fall on the moon during a lunar eclipse: The umbra is a full, dark shadow. The penumbra is a partial outer shadow. The moon passes through these shadows in stages. The initial and final stages — when the moon is in the penumbral shadow — are not so noticeable, so the best part of an eclipse is during the middle of the event, when the moon is in the umbral shadow. [Lunar Eclipse Pictures | More Pictures | And More Pictures]

Total eclipses are a freak of cosmic happenstance. Ever since the moon formed, about 4.5 billion years ago, it has been inching away from our planet (by about 1.6 inches, or 4 centimeters per year). The setup right now is perfect: the moon is at the perfect distance for Earth’s shadow to cover the moon totally, but just barely. Billions of years from now, that won’t be the case.

Types of lunar eclipses

Total lunar eclipse: Earth’s full (umbral) shadow falls on the moon. The moon won’t completely disappear, but it will be cast in an eerie darkness that makes it easy to miss if you were not looking for the eclipse. Some sunlight passing through Earth’s atmosphere is scattered and refracted, or bent, and refocused on the moon, giving it a dim glow even during totality. If you were standing on the moon, looking back at the sun, you’d see the black disk of Earth blocking the entire sun, but you’d also see a ring of reflected light glowing around the edges of Earth — that’s the light that falls on the moon during a total lunar eclipse.

Partial lunar eclipse: Some eclipses are only partial. But even a total lunar eclipse goes through a partial phase on either side of totality. During the partial phase, the sun, Earth and moon are not quite perfectly aligned, and Earth’s shadow appears to take a bite out of the moon.

Penumbral lunar eclipse: This is the least interesting type of eclipse, because the moon is in Earth’s faint outer (penumbral) shadow. Unless you’re a seasoned skywatcher, you likely won’t notice the effect.

The blood-red moon

The moon may turn red or coppery colored during the total portion of an eclipse. The red moon is possible because while the moon is in total shadow, some light from the sun passes through Earth’s atmosphere and is bent toward the moon. While other colors in the spectrum are blocked and scattered by Earth’s atmosphere, red light tends to make it through easier. The effect is to cast all the planet’s sunrises and sunsets on the moon.

The moon turned a blood red over the Sossusvlei Desert Lodge on NamibRand Nature Reserve in Namibia in this stunning photo taken by skywatcher George Tucker on June 15, 2011.

The moon turned a blood red over the Sossusvlei Desert Lodge on NamibRand Nature Reserve in Namibia in this stunning photo taken by skywatcher George Tucker on June 15, 2011.
CREDIT: George Tucker

“The exact color that the moon appears depends on the amount of dust and clouds in the atmosphere,” according to NASA scientists. “If there are extra particles in the atmosphere, from say a recent volcanic eruption, the moon will appear a darker shade of red.”

Christopher Columbus leveraged a blood-red eclipse in 1504 to frighten natives on Jamaica into feeding him and his crew. It was on Columbus’ fourth and final voyage to the New World. An epidemic of shipworms ate holes in the ships of his fleet; Columbus’ was forced to abandon two ships. He then beached his last two on Jamaica on June 25, 1503. The natives welcomed the castaways and fed them. But after six months, Columbus’ crew mutinied, and robbed and murdered some of the Jamaicans, who had grown weary of feeding the crew.

Columbus had an almanac that foretold a lunar eclipse on Feb. 29, 1504. He met the local chief, and told him the Christian god was angry with his people for no longer supplying food. Columbus said to expect a sign of God’s displeasure three nights later, when He would make the full moon appear “inflamed with wrath.” When the blood-red moon came to pass, the natives were terrified and “with great howling and lamentation came running from every direction to the ships laden with provisions,” according to an account from Columbus’ son.

Just before the total phase of the eclipse was about to end, Columbus said God had pardoned the natives and would bring the moon back. The crew was well fed until help arrived in November and Columbus and his men sailed back to Spain.

Lunar Eclipse 2010 by Daily Dose of Imagery

Lunar Eclipse 2010 by Daily Dose of Imagery

When is the next lunar eclipse?

Here is a schedule of upcoming lunar eclipses:

April 25, 2013: Partial Lunar Eclipse: Visible from Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia.

May 25, 2013: Penumbral Lunar Eclipse: Visible from the Americas and Africa.

Oct. 18, 2013: Penumbral Lunar Eclipse: Visible from the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia.

April 15, 2014: Total Lunar Eclipse: Visible from the Americas, Australia and out in the Pacific Ocean.

Oct. 8, 2014: Total Lunar Eclipse: Visible from the Americans, Asia, Australia and in the Pacific Ocean.

 the Americans, Asia, Australia and in the Pacific Ocean.

This photo of the Dec. 20 total lunar eclipse by Jimmy Westlake shows the blue edge to Earth's shadow set against the reddened moon.

This photo of the Dec. 20 total lunar eclipse by Jimmy Westlake shows the blue edge to Earth’s shadow set against the reddened moon.
CREDIT: Jimmy Westlake

How to Watch a Lunar Eclipse

Lunar eclipses are among the easiest skywatching events to observe. Simply go out, look up, and enjoy. You don’t need a telescope or any other special equipment. However, binoculars or a small telescope will bring out details in the lunar surface — moonwatching is as interesting during an eclipse as anytime. If the eclipse occurs during winter, bundle up if you plan to be out for the duration — an eclipse can take a couple hours to unfold. Bring warm drinks and blankets or chairs for comfort.

[Lunar Eclipse Pictures | More Pictures | And More Pictures] Via Space.com for ORIGINAL Story..