Here's hoping ISON puts on a good show

Published: Wednesday, November 20, 2013 at 03:54 PM.

ISON is coming! ISON is coming!

Technically, ISON is here, but I haven’t seen it yet. I hope it doesn’t turn out to be one of those overly hyped astronomical duds like the Kohoutek visit in 1973.

“ISON” is the acronym for the International Scientific Optical Network, where the comet was initially discovered by a team of Russian astronomers. Its official name is “Comet C/2012 S1,” but that doesn’t roll off the tongue so easily.

Over the past few weeks, virtually all telescopes have been pointed in its direction. The latest pictures show a new tail emerging from its bulbous coma. I wouldn’t mind seeing a comet with two tails.

This one might possibly trump any other this layperson has seen in his life. It’s now mid-November and on the 28th, it’ll skim less than two million miles from the sun.

If it survives that brush and doesn’t boil away, it should entertain us throughout the rest of this year, even in the daytime! Of course that’s a huge “if.”

We all remember the spectacular example of gravitational tidal stresses fragmenting Shoemaker-Levy 9 as it approached Jupiter. The train of pieces impacted the planet at 134,000 per hour. Calling Hollywood!

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