After Delta dampener, gear up for ISON spectacle this winter

  • Saptarshi Banerjee, Hindustan Times, Kolkata
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  • Updated: Jul 31, 2013 12:39 IST

Though people in Kolkata could not witness the Delta Meteor shower since the rains played spoil sport, skygazers need not be disheartened because they are about to witness a spectacle this winter.

Sky watchers would get to see comet ISON, a sungrazing comet, which was discovered on September 21, 2012 by Vitali Nevski and Artyom Novichonok.

The comet’s technical name is C/2012 S1.

According to Kaustuv Chaudhuri, secretary general of Kolkata Astronomy Centre, the comet may be seen even during the day since it is likely to be as bright as the moon.

“This would be possible after November 28.This would be a spectacular event in the right sense of the term, and people of Kolkata would be able to witness the celestial event throughout winter,” he said.

“But there is a catch. The comet would only be as bright as the moon only if it remains intact. Comets at times break into two or more pieces due to solar radiation when they move close to the sun.

But you can still get a spectacular view because if the comet breaks into two or more pieces it would appear as a string of pearls,” Kaustuv Chaudhuri said. “If the comet remains intact then it would shine with a million kilometres long tail,” Chaudhuri added.

“When the comet would be at its maximum brightness during late November, it would appear in the day sky very close to the Sun making sightings not only difficult but dangerous. People should not see it with binoculars, X-ray plates, dark glasses because it would cause damage to eyes,” Chaudhuri said.

According to the sky expert the best time to see the comet would be in the evening or early morning.

Chaudhuri said that the comet is now too dim to be visible to the naked eye.

“It would become bright enough to be visible through small telescopes or binoculars in September, and from November onwards, the comet would be visible to the naked eye,” he said.

Chaudhuri also said it would be easier for people to spot the comet from the month of December 2013, since it would move away from the sun, though the brightness would decrease since it would be at a distance away from the Sun.

“In December the comet would be visible twice, once in the evening sky and then just before dawn, and in early January 2014, it would be visible throughout the night,” he added.

 

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