Comet ISON revolves around the sun in steeply inclined orbit. Earth will pass through the plane of that orbit on Jan. 16. As we look "up" toward the comet our edgewise perspective could cause a temporary brightening of ISON's dust remnant. Credit: solarsystemscope.com with annotations by the writer.

Jan. 16 May Be Last Best Chance to Search for Comet ISON’s Remains

Article Updated: 23 Dec , 2015

by

Is there any hope of detecting what’s left of Comet ISON after the sun proved too much for its delicate constitution? German amateur astronomer Uwe Pilz suggest there remains a possibility that a photographic search might turn up a vestige of the comet when Earth crosses its orbital plane on January 16, 2014.

Update: See an image below taken by Hisayoshi Kato of the comet’s location in Draco on December 29!

Comet ISON is located high in the northern sky near the familiar "W" or "M" or Cassiopeia during the time of orbital crossing. Stellarium

Comet ISON is located high in the northern sky near the familiar “W” or “M” or Cassiopeia during the time of orbital crossing. Stellarium

On and around that date, we’ll be staring straight across the sheet of debris left in the comet’s path. Whatever bits of dust and grit it left behind will be “visually compressed” and perhaps detectable in time exposure photos using wide-field telescopes. To understand why ISON would appear brighter, consider the bright band of the Milky Way. It stands apart from the helter-skelter scatter of stars for the same reason; when we look in its direction, we peer into the galaxy’s flattened disk where the stars are most concentrated. They stack up to create a brighter band slicing across the sky. Similarly, dust shed by Comet ISON will be “stacked up” from Earth’s perspective on the 16th.

Comet L4 PanSTARRS bizarre beam-like appearance on May 28 near the time of orbital plane crossing. Credit: Michael Jaeger

Comet L4 PanSTARRS beam-like appearance on May 28 near the time of orbital plane crossing. Credit: Michael Jaeger

This isn’t the first time a comet has leapt in brightness at an orbital plane crossing. You might recall that Comet C/2011 L4 PanSTARRS temporarily brightened and assumed a striking linear shape when Earth passed through its orbital plane on May 27.

Comet ISON debris simulations for Jan. 12 and 14, 2014. Credit: Uwe Pilz

Comet ISON debris simulations for Jan. 12 and 14, 2014. The aqua line points toward the sun; the black line is 1 degree long. Credit: Uwe Pilz

Pilz, a longtime contributor to the online Comets Mailing List for dedicated comet observers, has made a series of simulations of Comet ISON for mid-January using his own comet tail program. He bases his calculations on presumed larger particle sizes 1 mm – 10 mm – not the more common 0.3-10 micrometer fragments normally shed by comets. The assumption here is that ISON has remained virtually invisible since perihelion because it broke up into a smaller number of larger-than-usual pieces that don’t reflect light nearly as efficiently as larger amounts of smaller dust particles.

A slivery ISON on Jan. 16 widens a bit two days later in Pilz's simulations. Credit: Uwe Pilz

A slivery ISON on Jan. 16 widens a bit two days later in Pilz’s simulations. Click to see additional simulations. Credit: Uwe Pilz

The images look bizarre at first glance but totally make sense given the unique perspective. Notice that the debris stream becomes thinner as we approach orbital crossing; any potential dust blobs appear exactly edge-on similar to the way Saturn’s rings narrow to a “line” when Earth passes through the ring plane.

Besides the fact that not a single Earth-bound telescope has succeeded to date in photographing any of ISON’s debris, amateurs who attempt to fire one last volley the comet’s way will face one additional barrier – the moon. A full moon the same day as orbital crossing will make a difficult task that much more challenging. Digital photography can get around moonlight in many circumstances, but when it comes to the faintest of the faint, the last thing you want in your sky is the high-riding January moon. One night past full, a narrow window of darkness opens up and widens with each passing night.

Will anyone take up the challenge?

UPDATE Dec. 30 10 a.m. (CST):  We may have our very first photo of Comet ISON from the ground! Astrophotographer Hisayoshi Kato made a deep image of the comet’s location in Draco on December 29 using a 180mm f/2.8 telephoto lens near the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii at 11,000 feet. He stacked 5 exposures totaling 110 minutes to record what could be the ISON’s debris cloud. It’s incredibly diffuse and faint and about the same brightness as the Integrated Flux Nebula, dust clouds threading the galaxy that glow not by the light of a nearby star(s) but instead from the integrated flux of all the stars in the Milky Way. We’re talking as dim as it gets. What the photo recorded is only a tentative identification –  followup observations are planned to confirm whether the object is real or an artifact from image processing.  Stay tuned.

The sausage-like glow running from upper left to lower right in this negative image may the dusty remains of Comet ISON as photographed on Dec. 29 from Hawaii. Click to enlarge. Credit: Hisayoshi Kato

The sausage-like glow running from upper left to lower right in this negative image may the dusty remains of Comet ISON as photographed on Dec. 29 from Hawaii. The blue dot shows the predicted position of the comet; the green type gives the names of stars. Click to enlarge. Credit: Hisayoshi Kato

, , ,



Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Aqua4U
Member
December 30, 2013 2:36 PM

Comet ISON might have been better named Comet Icarus? lol

Yode
Guest
Yode
December 31, 2013 10:09 AM

…or Comet I (was decimated by the) SUN

Marietta Alexander
Member
Marietta Alexander
January 1, 2014 1:11 AM
Funny how this article makes no mention of what earth is about to pass through! On or around January 12th, the orbit of earth plows through the debris trail left by ISON as it was heading toward the Sun. Maybe little is being said because the authorities want to slip into the underground bunkers that are all stocked with provisions that will keep those eligible comfortable for months while those remaining top side suffer the consequences. Let’s hear about the poison gas in this dust, plague, too, not to mention the meteors and fine dust that floats down in the ground. Also, understand there is a very good chance of stray asteroids coming out of nowhere that hit… Read more »
Tim
Guest
Tim
January 1, 2014 8:00 AM

Mmmm!!! Happy new year to all as this might well be the last !

Mike_Fiedler
Guest
Mike_Fiedler
January 1, 2014 9:14 PM

What a tragedy that fear of the future, and an empty expectation of apocalypse makes it so hard for people to view the beauty and fascinating truth of our universe!

Marietta Alexander
Member
Marietta Alexander
January 1, 2014 9:32 PM
My future is Glorious, thank you very much! My Home has streets of Pure Gold and Precious Stones everywhere you look! My Home is filled with happiness and Joy forever because Jesus Christ takes care of everyone! There is no lack or no want or no weeping or no sadness and best of all, no pain. No death with no separation from Loved ones. There is no night there but endless Day with colors and beauty everywhere. Best of all, in a few days will be going there and leaving this emptiness and fallen, sinful place far behind. Jesus is Coming because the Age of Grace is ending and He will be Rapturing His Church to be His… Read more »
TheDalaiSputnik
Guest
TheDalaiSputnik
January 2, 2014 8:18 AM

Nice that these posts, once posted, will serve as a reference for future readers; that is, the ones reading on January 13th, 14th, 15th, etcetera. Harold Camping much?

Sean Cassidy
Guest
Sean Cassidy
January 3, 2014 10:41 AM
here’s the thing. There may well be reasons to turn to Jesus, repent of sins, etc. but fearmongering should not be one of those reasons. i mean, we are all gonna die someday so this should have an influence on us. pretending like it’s gonna happen soon if we don’t really know that can sometimes be a source of motivation but it seems to be a poor one. there is no particular reason to believe we are in end times. really. anything that is happening now has happened before, in the sense of natural disasters. as far as technology, that is new, but technological advances have scared people historically as well. “The Rapture” has lots of problems as… Read more »
Marietta Alexander
Member
Marietta Alexander
January 3, 2014 3:36 PM

If I am wrong and you are right; then no worries; we just go on our merry little way at our own pace! HOWEVER, IF I am right and you are WRONG; You were warned to repent; to earnestly turn to Jesus RIGHT NOW, yet you do not see the urgency or motivation and do nothing; the Rapture occurs out of the blue, the horrors of the Tribulation hit like a hurricane and You are awakened to the Truth too late! That is the lay of the land!
The decision is yours; the eternal consequences are ALSO YOURS!

Sean Cassidy
Guest
Sean Cassidy
January 3, 2014 10:33 PM
my point is, if you’re supposed to turn to Jesus RIGHT NOW that needn’t have nothing to do with any potential apocalypse. you should turn to him right now regardless. and i’d say it is better to turn to somebody out of love rather than fear. but either way, if you are concerned about death that can happen any time to any one of us. and if i’m not mistaken, don’t u believe that at that point your life’s actions which u will be judged on are complete? so u don’t need the rapture for that to happen. i could walk in front of a moving truck tonight and that’d b it for me. we should be aware… Read more »
Jonathon R
Guest
Jonathon R
January 6, 2014 3:40 PM
well said. Not sure why the rapture is seen as a negative anyway. It would be like all of us mass winning the lottery, in regards to it being good. I don’t see why that part makes people afraid. I’d be more scared if i didn’t believe in the rapture but even then i realize it is an interpretation. If he didn’t come before the trib i wouldn’t feel betrayed. I’d put my head down and make the best of it like we all do every day. Anyway, well said in both posts. I don’t think the original person was trying to do anything wrong anyway. They were trying to help in their own way and it was… Read more »
Kristina Gazo
Guest
Kristina Gazo
January 5, 2014 11:42 AM

Don’t you dare “warn” me to repent. It is your religious indoctrination and ignorance towards others that is what is really wrong with this world today. Keep your religious beliefs to yourself and live under whatever illusion makes you feel safe. But don’t you dare push those beliefs on others. If tragedy does strike, I am fully capable of dealing with it in a way that I BELIEVE (even if that means I am without any belief system at all). I have zero reason to change my mind and start following your fanatical ways in the 11th hour because you told me to. Let us keep this conversation about comet ison facts, not religion. Thank you.

Sean Cassidy
Guest
Sean Cassidy
January 6, 2014 2:56 AM

the beauty of free speech on forums like this is she can say whatever she wants, on topic or not, and you are free to rebut. religious people can comment here and if u find a religious site with disqus and want to comment with scientific stuff you, likewise, are free to do that. society benefits when people expose each other to different beliefs rather than stay isolated within narrow groups of like-minded thinkers.

Jonathon R
Guest
Jonathon R
January 5, 2014 9:58 PM
Good thing is he doesn’t have to believe in the rapture(I do) for things to work out as well as possible. If he is good with Jesus then whatever happens will happen. If nothing else; really bad things happen to people all the time. Our odds are just going to get much greater of it happening to us if we are still here. Which ever way you see it, when the great tribulation comes he says his we will be gone before then. Mathew and Mark are both fairly clear to me we won’t be expecting anything and will leave wit him. Call it the rapture, a harvest, or being call home for dinner. Giving it a different… Read more »
Marietta Alexander
Member
Marietta Alexander
January 3, 2014 3:56 PM
Jesus Christ is our future and without Him to save you from eternal destruction; you will go to Hell for all eternity. Jesus Christ came to pay the price for our sin; You must decide to come to Him, repenting earnestly and seek Him with your whole heart. Ask Him into your life to change your eternal destiny. He is waiting right now to come into your life and save you! If you want to get to a specific place, you must take the necessary steps in order to ACTUALLY arrive there. (If you want to go to L.A.; do not get on a plane to Chicago!) Same thing applies to your Eternal Destination, you must take the… Read more »
Sean Cassidy
Guest
Sean Cassidy
January 3, 2014 10:49 PM

i recall a couple of times taking a non-direct flight; i had to switch planes in another city to continue to my destination. i mean who really likes making connections, right? but sometimes taking that plane to Chicago may be the thing to do wink

Jonathon R
Guest
Jonathon R
January 5, 2014 9:44 PM

Well said, Amen smile

fauxshadaux
Guest
fauxshadaux
January 2, 2014 2:56 AM

We pass through comet debris fields all the time….that is what a meteor shower is! You should educate yourself in astronomy a bit more before going all Dooms Day radical. Nothing will happen. Maybe a few extra “shooting stars”. But, it won’t be the end of the world. Quit your fear mongering and pick up a text book. Learn about what you’re spouting off before making yourself look more like a moron.

John J Phillips
Guest
John J Phillips
January 3, 2014 10:20 AM

I don’t think it would help to educate people like this in astronomy. Perhaps they could be sent back to nursery to actually get an education. This is what happens when people are educated by tv.

Sean Cassidy
Guest
Sean Cassidy
January 3, 2014 10:32 AM

aww, there’s always SOME hope.

GIGfriend22
Guest
GIGfriend22
January 3, 2014 4:10 PM
With all do respect you don’t sound much like a professional yourself….When we go through those fields….There are hundreds of years old…Some of them might be reaching the 1000 year mark… Lots of time for Gases and such to be disintegrated… Secondly you have no oxygen up there….There is no places for the Gas to go, or disintegrated into….All we have is the suns solar winds to do that and that’s it……Lastly Many meteorites or comets were months away, sometimes close to a year away before we would go through it… That makes a big difference when you think of time line…. This comet just passed us about a month ago….That’s cutting it extraordinarily thin!!!! And although I… Read more »
Sean Cassidy
Guest
Sean Cassidy
January 3, 2014 10:35 AM

there is gas in all the comae earth has gone thru in the past as well. and comet dust ends up becoming meteor showers. and there’s no reason to believe plague or any bacteria for that matter are in comets. there is ALWAYS a chance for a big meteor to hit, regardless of ISON. a very small chance. there is no way to know where it will hit, so u must think u have access to knowldge that is uncommon. (Bible Code stuff perhaps?)

Guest
Guest
Guest
January 5, 2014 3:32 AM
There is a strong case for the pre-perihelion stream containing the seeds of life – ie viruses and bacteria . Hoyle and Wickramasinghe have long hypothesized this to be the case – with I believe reasonable evidence (in their many books on this subject). The results of the stratospheric experiments planned next week – Jan 15, 2014 – by Professor Milton Wainwright should be very interesting. As will be the papers we are looking forward to from NASA scientist Anthony Remijan (ALMA spectroscopy results). Don’t forget ISON was a parabolic comet at a steep inclination to the ecliptic. So it does not come from the usual solar system Kuiper Belt (like Halley’s Comet) but it possibly came from… Read more »
Sean Cassidy
Guest
Sean Cassidy
January 3, 2014 10:44 PM
while i agree that namecalling like “moron” is unnecessary, i want to clear up some facts as far as we know: some of those fields are old, like u said, but for example comet 2p encke approaches the sun every three years (just went by this year) laying fresh debris and the November Taurids (meteor shower) are thought to be the source of this. one reason why the gases of a comet are harmless is because their volume is relatively tiny compared to the earth’s atmosphere. sure if u were breathing pure comet gas u would be dead. but any amount of it that makes it into our atmosphere is diluted by probably more than trillions to one.… Read more »
Sean Cassidy
Guest
Sean Cassidy
January 3, 2014 10:50 PM

awesome!

Marietta Alexander
Member
Marietta Alexander
January 3, 2014 11:53 PM

Sean, just come to Jesus right now. He loves you and already has it all worked out. He knew you before you were born, knows every thought, intention and habit. He loves you anyway. He died for you so you could live with Him forever in unbelievable happiness and beauty with no fear of anything. Come, Sean. Ask Jesus to forgive you of your sin and just ask Jesus to come to you; just come, Sean. bow your head and come to Jesus Now!

Sean Cassidy
Guest
Sean Cassidy
January 5, 2014 4:45 AM

i appreciate your good intentions. for all u know i could already be praying to him.

Marietta Alexander
Member
Marietta Alexander
January 3, 2014 11:55 PM

Take the narrow path to Jesus and to Heaven; get off the broad way to destruction. It is important you make that decision to come to Jesus, with no excuses. Just come!

David San Diego
Guest
David San Diego
January 4, 2014 2:33 AM
Here is a christian brother that has been given the gift of prophesy – he claims that a meteor will hit east of Puerto Rico at 2am creating a 1000 ft wave traveling at 400 miles an hour hitting Miami in 4 hours from impact. He claims that the earth will not rotate for 3 days. Here is the Youtube video:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WY4dwlqOngM If he is right will you please consider Jesus is speaking to you and acknowedge that He loves you. Please repent of your sins – we are all sinners but He will forgive you when you just ask. Then accept him and confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and you are saved! Do it now…… Read more »
Sean Cassidy
Guest
Sean Cassidy
January 5, 2014 4:44 AM

2AM in which time zone, and which date?

David San Diego
Guest
David San Diego
January 5, 2014 2:44 PM

Atlantic Standard Time 1 hr after EST

Here is the English translation on the brother’s website: http://www.profeta-de-dios-efrain.com/

Sean Cassidy
Guest
Sean Cassidy
January 6, 2014 2:51 AM

thanks. do u know the predicted date?

Theo Howe
Guest
Theo Howe
January 7, 2014 12:31 AM

2AM, local. (Puerto Rico time zone).

Sean Cassidy
Guest
Sean Cassidy
January 13, 2014 4:22 AM

thanks. but what date?

IVAN3MAN_AT_LARGE
Member
IVAN3MAN_AT_LARGE
January 4, 2014 10:02 AM

Yeah, and that’s why I’m not going to delete them!

Neoexmnist
Guest
Neoexmnist
January 4, 2014 12:39 PM

These Jesus freaks should be in the looney bin

Jonathon R
Guest
Jonathon R
January 6, 2014 4:15 PM
When God wraps up his show and starts the next chapter, please think kindly of those who tried to help you (whether their understanding of what would specifically happen was over the top or not). In the end their only desire was to help you. In the end, if the message is true, (and i firmly believe it is) should they stop reaching out to anyone because you beat your fists and degraded them? Would they stop for that reason if they would also die to save a stranger from an eternity secluded from God or worse yet if they were punished forever? Wouldn’t that lack of caring make them both despicable to God and yourself, if you… Read more »
IdeasExplorer
Guest
IdeasExplorer
January 5, 2014 2:17 PM
There is a strong case for the pre-perihelion stream containing the seeds of life – ie viruses and bacteria . Hoyle and Wickramasinghe have long hypothesized this to be the case – with I believe reasonable evidence (in their many books on this subject). The results of the stratospheric experiments planned next week – Jan 15, 2014 – by Professor Milton Wainwright should be very interesting. As will be the papers we are looking forward to from NASA scientist Anthony Remijan (ALMA spectroscopy results). Don’t forget ISON was a parabolic comet at a steep inclination to the ecliptic. So it does not come from the usual solar system Kuiper Belt (like Halley’s Comet) but it possibly came from… Read more »
Sean Cassidy
Guest
Sean Cassidy
January 6, 2014 3:04 AM
the only “building blocks” that have any evidence of coming from space are things like water and organic chemicals – certainly no solid evidence that anything like fully-formed viruses or bacteria have. the hypotheses u mentioned are generally rejected, though they shouldn’t be entirely ruled out. the other thing that doesn’t make sense to me is, if there was a bacterium coming from outerspace, why would it be the plague, something that evolved in the context of infecting mammals and insects on this planet? doesn’t really make sense. that was a specific problem of passing thru ISON’s tail which marietta mentioned. and i’m not sure why a steeply-inclined parabolic orbit implies extra-solar-system origin, either. the oort cloud is… Read more »
whariwharangi
Guest
whariwharangi
January 7, 2014 12:15 PM

Does anyone know where I can find information about ISON without irrelevant commentary from well meaning proselytizing religious proponents and the lunatic fringe? I am bothered by the lack of chatter about what happened to the comet; it seems to me there should be a lot more ‘noise’. Where are the remains of the comet?

Sean Cassidy
Guest
Sean Cassidy
January 13, 2014 4:20 AM

good ?. i guess in pretty small pieces? it was pretty small to begin with and the sun disrupted a good part of that.

supermagneticman
Guest
supermagneticman
January 12, 2014 7:42 PM

The Free Mason Nights Templar Unholy Bible Christards Mushlimbs and islambs, about one third of the planet beLIEve the world is not binary that there is no alpha omega no yin yang no feminine masculine both our “Father God” and Satan are alpha male no Omega no feminine energy in that doomed religion by design. Wake up sheep singularity reptilian zombies you are mammals you are binary act like it recognize that you are hypnotized that there is only one creator and it ain t no “HE” no wonder the church is full of gay child molesters unholy bible calls satan and god “he” alpha alpha gay religion pathetic

Sean Cassidy
Guest
Sean Cassidy
January 13, 2014 4:19 AM

aaaah it’s the 13th!!!!

Sean Cassidy
Guest
Sean Cassidy
January 13, 2014 4:24 AM

*Knights

wpDiscuz