Saturday, August 24, 2013

Ready For A New Comet?
Our interdisciplinary effort to track the latest imagery and analyses of Comet ISON, 
which has potential to be the most significant celestial event in a century. 

Source: solarsystemscope.com
Alternative hypotheses on ISON at the Youtube channel BPEarthWatch


9:30 AM EDT 8/24/2013 (Forecaster Foot) ""The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see." This quote attributed to Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of England in the mid-20th century, is applicable today as we prepare for a major celestial show this fall. From August 2013 to January 2014, the Comet ISON (technical name C/2012 S1) will complete what some astronomers believe is its first trip into the inner solar system. ISON is one of many intriguing events in astronomy coming up including a possible impact between Comet Siding-Spring and Mars in 2014. (NASA article)

For now, we focus on the next-up thrill of ISON's gravitational adventure with a potentially spectacular fly by of Mars in October, a sling-shot around the Sun in late November daily revelry by the Winter holidays for skywatcher parties and researchers alike.

Where is the comet now? If you just want to cut to the chase, we offer these links to resources we will review and present for credible authenticity to be featured on this site: 
  • Where is Comet ISON?  A month-by-month play on the location of ISON starting in August, written by the director of Armagh Planetarium in England http://www.armaghplanet.com/
  • ISON to fly by Mars October 1  A brief Youtube from Science@NASA on the comet's expected near-brush with the Red Planet.
"Wait...there's a comet coming?"  No worries, this is a standard reaction we have received from just about everyone we've asked, which is encouraging evidence that many of our readers are going about their daily lives in normal fashion, and not spending too much time on a distant celestial object! That's what our Comet ISON tracking team will do for you. For a quick glance at what main stream media has said, here's a clip from NBC Nightly News in October 2012.

Source: Mirror video of NBC News report from 10/4/2012

Interested in joining our ISON journey? Over the next 5 months, we hope you will accompany us on this interplanetary journey as we will provide in this section a weekly mosaic of the best tracking and observing resources for skywatchers, new and seasoned alike! We also welcome any readers or researchers, professional or amateur, who would like to collaborate with us in this effort. We welcome analyses, links to resources you recommend, or noteworthy studies that can help us all understand the origins, path and future of this newly discovered participant in our Solar System.

NASA simulated image of ISON for December 11, 2013 
as expected for observers along the U.S. East Coast

The relationship to climate and weather? 
The Foot's Forecast team employs an interdisciplinary "Earth Systems" perspective when conveying the latest research and observations on how global and solar system forces interact to drive our climate and weather. The upcoming comet is just one example of how we can promote celestial events to raise the public's scientific awareness about the Earth-Sun system.  

Comet ISON (C/2012 S1) was first discovered in September 2012 by two Russian astronomers conducting a night sky survey titled the International Scientific Optical Network (hence the name, ISON). From late August to late October, the Comet's first big introduction to Earth observers will approach to within 6 million miles of Mars, followed by ISON's perihelion to the Sun in late November.  This period of closest approach is also expected to coincide with an anticipated "flip" of the Sun's electromagnetic fieldAs part of our Long Range Team's customary data preparation for the winter forecast, we will be examining these factors as we look ahead to the seasonal transition and what weather challenges may come.

ISON Resources For Educators 
Just as important as the long range scientific connections, is the potential educational value of this global experience. We encourage all teachers at all levels of instruction to consider ways they can leverage this opportunity to raise student awareness about interactive natural forces, with ISON blazing the trail of knowledge forward for all of us.

For starters, we offer these excellent and informative Youtube videos from a variety of reasoned, appropriate or official sources:

  • NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Orbital simulators of ISONs journey, from the JPL Near Earth Object Program.
  • NASA Eyes on the Solar System Downloadable desktop visualization lab to explore near space, the Solar System, Comets and other celestial features.
  • BPEarthWatch Informative and investigative astronomy enthusiast on Youtube. Presents an overview of 3D model simulators of the Comet and inner solar system, analysis of latest ISON photography from the Hubble Space Telescope. Explores a variety of thought-provoking observations on the Comet's recent activity.
  • Comet Imagery Viewer Interactive portal of Hubble images from ISON, where you can adjust settings to view the Comet from different perspectives.
  • Solar System Scope Free online simulator, provides visually striking and high-detail user controlled interactivity of all planets in the Solar System, with thematic music. Useful for showing relationships between planets, orbits and ISON's path.
What are next steps for interested skywatchers?
If you have interest in participating with us on this fascinating journey of interdisciplinary science, with ISON as our literal and figurative backdrop, contact us: team@footsforecast.org  and we will put you in touch with our Space Weather Team.






1 comment:

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