A Martz Minute

What is ISON? ISON C/2012 is the name of a comet that is being referred to as the possible Comet of the Century!

What’s the big deal about this comet? We’ve seen comets before! This comet will whiz-by the sun very closely – less than one solar diameter (less than 864,000 miles) from the surface of the sun. (Credit: John Bortle, Sky & Telescope magazine) It will be very interesting to observe the effect of the sun upon the comet, its coma (The haze around the head of the comet), and its tail. This event should present some interesting images. John Bortle, of Sky & Telescope magazine, says that the comet may, for a few hours, shine as brightly as the planet Venus!

Because the comet will pass so closely to the sun, comet-watchers – enthusiast, amateur and professional – will have to be extremely cautious when capturing images. Looking in the direction of the sun can be very harmful to humans’ eyesight and viewing equipment.

So, when is it coming? November 28, 2013, is the date of the comet’s perihelion, its closest approach to the sun. As you can see in the adjoining picture, after the comet makes its closest approach to the sun and it becomes visible (within about 30 minutes before sunrise), over about a 2-week period, the comet will appear to rise, on successive days, to about 40 degrees above the horizon with its tail pointing away from the sun. (Credit: John Bortle, Sky & Telescope magazine)

Another item of interest about that picture is the view on December 1, 2013, just before sunrise – ISON (C2012), Mercury, and a sliver-of-a-crescent-moon will appear near to each other.

If you would like to view the ISON event on a webcast, check out the space.com website.

Call the Martz Observatory at (716) 569-3689 or email martzobservatory@hotmail.com to schedule a visit. Martz Observatory is normally attended Wednesday evenings after 7 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The observatory is located at 176 Robin Hill Rd., Frewsburg, N.Y., 14738. For more information about the Martz Observatory, visit www.martzobservatory.org.

Martz Observatory Calendar:

July 10, 7:30 p.m. General Membership Meeting

July 17, 7:30 p.m. Admin/Public/Member Night

July 24, 7:30 p.m. Board of Directors Meeting

Submitted by: Garry Campbell, Member, Martz Observatory