This year is exclusively for all the sky gazers and the astronomy enthusiasts as the year 2013 is here to give them all the reasons to be excited about. Scientists estimate that 2 awe-inspiring comets are expected to emblaze the skies in March and November of 2013, and bets are that they are going to be the most memorable ones in the history of space science.
PANSTARRS : March 10 to 24, 2013
The comet PANSTARRS is going to etch the skies in the mid of March and was discovered in the year 2011 by scientists in Haleakala, Hawaii using the telescope – Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (PANSTARRS), after which it is named.
PANSTARRS is a non-periodic comet, meaning that it only passes through our Solar System once or that it takes several hundreds of years to orbit our Sun and can be considered a ‘once in a lifetime’ comet. This comet probably required millions of years to travel all the way from the Oort clouds (a spherical cloud of icy objects that surrounds our solar system) to our immediate vicinity.
PANSTARRS was a distant and dim object during the time it was discovered in 2011. However, with the course of time, there has been a steady increase in its brightness.
The Dazzling Flight of PANSTARRS
March 5, 2013: It will pass close to the earth at a distance of 1.10 Astronomical units, AU (1 AU = 150 million kilometers or 93 million miles = the distance between earth and sun)
March 10, 2013: This comet will brighten up more when it passes closest to the sun which will be as close as Mercury, at 0.30 AU (45 million kilometers or 28 million miles). Because the comet will come under the influence of the sun and its heat, it will soon vaporize the ice and dust from its outer crust. A dust tail will develop in the comet as soon as this event takes place.
Throughout March, this comet will be visible to the unaided eyes in the Northern Hemisphere mostly after sunsets. It will simply be a glamorous enamor and breathtaking sight that is sure to swipe you of your feet.
April 2013: After its exceptional show throughout the month of March, PANSTARRS will fade away as the month of April strides in. This comet will gradually move away from the sun and disappear into the depths of space.
C/2012 S1 ISON Nov 23, 2013:
ISON is also known as ‘sungrazer’. This comet is indeed a big opportunity for the photographers all over the globe as it is expected to be as bright as a full moon. It was discovered by the Eastern and Russian astronomers while spotting it through the reflector of the International Scientific Optical Network, thus the name ISON.
The history is going to witness the closest approach by a comet to the sun as this comet will come closer to the sun’s surface than a distance of 800,000 miles (1.280.000 kilometers). This close pass may eventually lead the Comet ISON to break into pieces. When it doesn’t break, it will be hundred times brighter and can cause clear visibility during the day time too. It is indubitably the time of the year when you can get geared up with your binoculars to watch the spellbinding shots of this comet.
The Glamorous Voyage of ISON
October 2013- Comet ISON will first sweep the constellation Leo and its brightest star, Regulus and then come into the proximity of Mars. The brightness of the comet will be at its peak during this month.
November 2013: Late November will experience, the comet approaching towards the sun. Sequentially, it will pass through the bright star Spica as well as the planet Saturn which comes in the constellation Virgo. This spectacle will be a brilliant one as it will cause a one of a kind illumination of the sky.
If the comet survives the close pass of the sun, then this month is surely the best time for the people of Northern Hemisphere to watch Comet ISON. ISON will probably outshine the recent dazzlers, the Comet Hale-Bopp (1997) and Comet McNaught (2007).
So are you ready?
Astronomers all over the world are tracking the course of these two extraordinary comets that are about to make history in 2013. They are the ultimate treats for sky-watchers all around the globe and they may draw millions of people out in the dark to witness the comets of the century. So, mark your calendars and get ready to gaze the larger-than-life comets as they grace and enliven the skies with their stunning allure.