Will Comet ISON live up to it’s potential?

Scientists around the world have been tracking the promising Comet ISON because of its potential to star in a spectacular celestial show later this year, but from now through Aug. 8 the comet is on a “summer sabbatical.”


Comet ISON — which some have hailed as the next “comet of the century” — is currently located too near the sun to be seen from Earth. Since June 22, the comet has been less than 18 degrees from the sun and therefore cannot be seen against a dark sky. Your closed fist held at arm’s length covers about 10 degrees of the sky.


Currently located against the stars of the zodiacal constellation of Gemini, or the twins, the comet is progressing slowly eastward and will cross over into the boundaries of Cancer, the crab, on Aug. 1. A week later, on Aug. 8, the comet will have moved out as far as 18 degrees from the sun and once again will be evident against a dark sky. [See Photos of Comet ISON in Night Sky]

Comet ISON has brightened little, if at all, since the start of 2013, and when last seen was hovering at magnitude 15.5, making it nearly 4,000 times too dim to be seen with the unaided eye.

To readily observe the dim, fuzzy blob of ISON prior to June 22, you would have needed a very dark sky and a telescope with at least 20 inches (50.8 centimeters) of aperture, if not more. Comet ISON is too close to the bright twilight, but that will change after the first week of August as ISON — then a morning object — begins a slow emergence into the morning sky.


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Comet ISON: Will Potential 'Comet of the Century' Get …

This NASA Hubble Space Telescope image of Comet ISON was taken on April 10, 2013, when the comet was …

Both amateur and professional astronomers will have their fingers crossed that by early August ISON will have shown significant brightening since it was last seen in late June.


Mercury will be passing 4 degrees south of the comet on Aug. 8 and might be used to steer an observer toward ISON. But, by then, the comet will still be rather faint — probably about magnitude 13, although it might reach to magnitude 11 or even 10 by the end of August. Astronomers use a number-based magnitude scale to determine the brightness of objects in the night sky. The lower the magnitude number, the brighter the object.


With Comet ISON’s brightness apparently stalled as it disappeared into the glare of the sun, it’s anybody’s guess just how bright the object will shine when it reappears in early August.



The unpredictability of how bright a new comet may appear or how bright it ultimately gets is no surprise to those who constantly study these enigmatic objects. There are many variables that go into determining what ultimately will be seen: the comet’s orbit; the relative positions of the sun, Earth and comet; and, of course, the size and composition of the icy chunk of material that forms the comet’s nucleus.

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Comet ISON: Will Potential 'Comet of the Century' Get …

Images of Comet ISON obtained using the Gemini Multi-Object Spectrograph at Gemini North on February …

One reason it’s so hard to predict a comet’s brightness is that the material expelled from the object’s nucleus usually comes in distinct, albeit non-uniform jets or emissions. From more than a century’s worth of observations, astronomers have developed general formulas and models for comet brightness based on the observed behavior of literally hundreds of comets.


But some comets, like people, have their individual quirks.


It is hypothesized that ISON appeared abnormally bright during its discovery by amateur astronomers in September 2012 because it possessed a thin “frosting” of volatile material that vaporized at a great distance from the heat of the sun. This may have initially given a false impression that the object was dynamically large and active. After the frosting evaporated, the comet stopped brightening.


As to what happens next, observers now must wait until the comet gets close enough to the sun for any frozen water locked within its 3-mile-wide nucleus to begin to sublimate (go from a solid to a gaseous state). This, in turn, could “kick start” ISON back on a brightening trend.


ISON will need to come to within 230 million to 280 million miles (370 million to 450 million kilometers) of the sun for this to happen, but the comet won’t arrive within this distance range until July 8 to Aug. 12.


By the latter date, ISON will have emerged into a dark sky and will again be assessable to observers, low in the east-northeast sky, just before the break of dawn.


Will it have brightened or will it still be “stuck?” Observers will just have to wait and see.


Joe Rao serves as an instructor and guest lecturer at New York’s Hayden Planetarium. He writes about astronomy for Natural History magazine, the Farmer’s Almanac and other publications, and he is also an on-camera meteorologist for News 12 Westchester, N.Y. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Google+. Original article on SPACE.com.

Comet ISON news 6-27-2013




Here are the back-of-the-envelope numbers for June 27, 2013.

Today, Comet ISON is approximately 3.16 AU from the sun. There are still 154 days until Comet ISON reaches perihelion.

Over the course of the past 10 days, Comet ISON traveled a distance of approximately 0.135 AU.

0.135 AU = 12,549,034 mi
0.135 AU = 20,195,712.5 km

That’s an average speed of roughly 1.25 million miles per day, or 2.02 million kilometers per day.

Between June 26, 2013 and June 27, 2013, ISON traveled a distance of approximately 0.013 AU. This is fairly consistent with the numbers seen 10 days ago.

0.013 AU = 1,208,425.49 mi
0.013 AU = 1,944,772.32 km

That’s an average speed of roughly 50,351 mph or 81,032 km/h. That’s approximately 13.99 mi per sec or 22.51 km per sec.

Here are two news snippets from the past week.

Astronomers had predicted Comet ISON would have started to brighten by now but it has stayed constant. Right now the comet is out of observation range behind the sun in the asteroid belt. When observations begin again in August, astronomer David Schleicher explains they can see if it has brightened as expected.

– Arizona Daily Sun, June 22, 2013

Geoff Chester, a spokesman for the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington D.C. said: “Predicting a comet’s appearance five months before it arrives is like predicting November’s weather now. There’s a lot of room for error, so it may be wise to acknowledge you don’t really know.”

– The News-Times, June 21, 2013

9 Submissions in 9 Sentence



From Kristen Nelson’s Blog


What I’ve seen in the last 2 weeks and why I passed:

4 Full Manuscripts (2 with offers of rep on the table)

1 – New Adult/wm’s fic. Recommended by a former editor we know well and like. I totally enjoyed the writing but for me, the story didn’t have a foot solidly in one genre or the other. I didn’t have the vision/passion for it so I passed.

2 – Wm’s fic/erotic leaning. Probably one of the more interesting concepts for a story that I’ve seen in a long time. What was interesting is the writing was quite literary but if I were to explain the plot, it would feel like contemporary romance. I went back and forth on that one as so intriguing. I did end up passing despite how smartly it was done.

3 – Middle Grade. Great great concept. But I had reservations that the voice didn’t quite nail the middle grade age range and although cool, a lot of the story felt too sophisticated but not exactly right for YA either.

4 – Middle Grade. Multicultural main character which I love. Great MG voice. Story line needed some work and with my current work load, I was afraid I couldn’t give the author the attention deserved.

5 Sample Pages

1 – Adult literary. Too literary for what I can be successful with. But terrific writing and a wonderful multicultural story.

2 – Young adult. Previously published author with great background. Fun paranormal. Snappy writing. I liked it but didn’t love it.

3 – Adult steampunk. Author had very cool background and the writing was nice but the opening didn’t grab me.

4 – Adult literary. Same as the other above. Too literary for what I tend to have success with. Wonderful multicultural angle though.

5 – Contemporary romance. Previously published author with great backlist and background. I liked it but didn’t love it. With a full client list, it makes a difference on what I’ll take on.

Talk About Burying the Lead

From Kristen Nelson’s blog:


Today HarperCollins announced their latest digital-only mystery imprint Witness. But buried in the third paragraph was the most interesting tidbit in the story! The real news item!

Harpercollins is changing their royalty period so as to pay digital-only authors on a monthly basis. Once again Amazon took the lead (asthey announced this on March 18) and the Big 6 had to follow. What I wouldn’t give for Random House or S&S to lead the way rather than do things after the fact but that might be wishful thinking.

But here’s my question to publishers and I hope they are paying attention. You are now starting to reward authors who are doing digital-only. Great. But what about your stalwart current authors who have stood by you and continued publishing with you as the industry revolutionized around them?

Why should they get shafted just because they are doing both print and digital?

I get why print payments need to be on the slow-as-molasses-every-6-months payment schedule because publishers have to factor in returns from physical bookstores. But why should those authors have to wait for their digital royalties? Why can’t this be separate? Of if that can’t be fathomed, why can’t digital royalties be paid immediately after earn out?

There is no longer any reason for the 6-month cycle.  How about payment parity for those authors?

US set to launch satellite to observe the sun




US poised to launch satellite to observe little-understood region of the sun

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, California (AP) — The U.S. space agency is preparing to launch a satellite to observe a little-studied region of the sun between its surface and atmosphere.

The Iris satellite is set to ride into Earth orbit on a rocket that will be dropped from an airplane over the Pacific on Thursday evening.

Iris will spend two years staring at a region of the sun that lies between its surface and the corona, the glowing white ring visible during eclipses. The goal is to learn more about how the region drives solar wind and to better predict space weather.

The mission costs $182 million.

Copyright (2013) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

 This article was distributed through the NewsCred Smartwire. Original article © The Associated Press 2013

Pelosi Says To Celebrate Obamacare on July 4th??



What the hell? I thought it was to celebrate our independence as a country. When did it become a celebration about something the majority of the country doesn’t want? I just don’t get it.

According to Nancy Pelosi, Democrats won’t only celebrate American independence on July 4, but will also be celebrating “health independence” thanks to Obamacare. The House minority leader tied the one-year anniversary of the Supreme Court’s ruling upholding the healthcare law to the July 4 holiday.

“It captures the spirit of our Founders, the spirit they wrote in the Declaration of Independence: life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness,” Pelosi said at a weekly press conference this morning, explaining the law allows Americans to have “a healthier life, and the liberty to pursue a person’s happiness.”