Comet Tourism Flight Trades ISON For Lovejoy

by Elizabeth Howell on December 17, 2013

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Bright, brighter, brightest: these views of Comet ISON after its closest approach to the sun Nov. 28 show that a small part of the nucleus may have survived the comet's close encounter with the sun. Images from the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory. Credit: ESA/NASA/SOHO/GSFC

Although Comet ISON briefly brightened after its closest encounter with the sun in November 2013, these days astronomers are classifying it more as an ex-comet of dust and debris. Images from the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory. Credit: ESA/NASA/SOHO/GSFC

When Comet ISON entered its zombie stage a few weeks ago, the effects were not only felt in the astronomical community, but also on astronomy tourists as the comet faded from the view of amateurs.

German company ”Eclipse-Reisen” (Eclipse Travel) had to make a last-minute change in plans for a Dec. 8 flight for some 75 tourists planning to observe ISON, which morphed into a travelling dust blob after skimming too close to the sun in late November. Fortunately, Comet Lovejoy is still a strong astronomical object, providing an alternate thing to watch.

“Most of the passengers weren’t disappointed. They were more excited to see something new. Only a few journalists cancelled the flight. All photographers and experts fully understood the situation,” a statement from Air Partner to Universe Today said. (The spokespeople were German-speaking, requiring a translation by another party.)

Negative image taken Nov. 14 of Lovejoy's nucleus and dust fan. Credit: Dr. P. Clay Sherrod

Negative image taken Nov. 14 of Lovejoy’s nucleus and dust fan. Credit: Dr. P. Clay Sherrod

“Comet Lovejoy is no less spectacular and still very exciting like ISON and they were pleased to see it, actually. Although Lovejoy is less bright than ISON, it is weaker by four size classes, its tail is smaller and pale and Lovejoy flies farther past the Earth and the Sun.”

The company had to ask for permission to alter its flight path, and inform the passengers of the last-minute change, all in a few days, but officials added that the flight went off without a hitch.

You can read more information about the company (in German) on its website. In 2014, it plans to run a flight to observe auroras over Iceland, among others.

About 

Elizabeth Howell is the senior writer at Universe Today. She also works for Space.com, Space Exploration Network, the NASA Lunar Science Institute, NASA Astrobiology Magazine and LiveScience, among others. Career highlights include watching three shuttle launches, and going on a two-week simulated Mars expedition in rural Utah. You can follow her on Twitter @howellspace or contact her at her website.

John Sheff December 17, 2013 at 2:52 PM

Of course, you can see Comet Lovejoy from your back yard, anywhere in the Northern Hemisphere. This doesn’t pass the smell test…

Marietta Alexander December 17, 2013 at 11:19 PM

Major Ed Dames insists that the KILL SHOT will occur either late 2013 to early 2014! Something makes the Sun hurl the solar flares at the earth that results in a fried power grid, fire balls, lightning and earthquakes. The real cause of death will be starvation as a result of this event.

Shootist December 17, 2013 at 11:45 PM

das Wolkenkuckucksheim

TransMaroBird December 18, 2013 at 2:01 AM

Don’t lose sleep over MED’s claims….he’s been making these remote viewing “predictions” in various degrees since around 1996 beginning with the Coast to Coast’s predecessor…The Art Bell Show. If everything this guy and Richard Hoagland said came true, the planet would have been destroyed 8,496 times over in the past 15 or so years. Relax, enjoy your life, if it happens, it happens, but don’t lose sleep over doomsdayers…..

Marietta Alexander December 18, 2013 at 11:30 AM

Major Ed Dames predicted the Japanese earthquake and other things that DID come true! Cannot be completely discounted as fiction.

IVAN3MAN_AT_LARGE December 18, 2013 at 12:51 PM
TransMaroBird December 19, 2013 at 9:34 PM

Thank you IVAN!

Leland Whitehouse December 22, 2013 at 4:11 PM

Everything in Nature has a purpose. Oil has a purpose, to lubricate & cool !
This function is taking place beneath the Earth at the Earths plates and Volcanic sites.
If the oil is taken away from these locations. Guess what ? More violent earthquake & eruptions.

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