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The Strange Death of Comet Ison

Unknown Lamer posted about 6 months ago | from the need-better-space-cameras dept.

Space 49

KentuckyFC (1144503) writes "Last year, astronomers announced that a small ball of ice and rock heading towards the inner Solar System could turn out to be the most eye-catching comet in living memory. They calculated that Comet Ison's orbit would take it behind the Sun but that it would then head towards Earth where it would put on a spectacular display of heavenly fireworks. Sure enough, Ison brightened dramatically as it headed Sunwards. But as astronomers watched on the evening of 28 November, the brightly flaring Ison moved behind the Sun but never emerged. The comet simply disappeared. Now a new analysis of the death of Ison suggests that the comet was doomed long before it reached the Sun. Images from several Sun-observing spacecraft that had a unique view of events, indicate that Ison exhausted its supply of water and other ice in the final flare-ups as it approached the Sun. The new study shows that all that was left in its last hours were a few hundred thousands pebbles glowing brightly as they vaporized in the Sun's heat. In fact, Comet Ison died in full view of the watching hordes of astronomers on Earth who did not realize what they were watching at the time."

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Eulogy (2)

sethradio (2603921) | about 6 months ago | (#46941543)

Dear ISON, You always were a sociable type. You weren't afraid to come close to our planet. Even if it meant potentially killing us. Were sorry we didn't notice your death.

It is a government Konspiracy! (1, Funny)

mi (197448) | about 6 months ago | (#46941555)

"Who killed Comet Ison?" — an upcoming documentary by Michael Moore.

Re:It is a government Konspiracy! (-1, Flamebait)

Tablizer (95088) | about 6 months ago | (#46941835)

or

Fox News: "Who gave the unpatriotic stand-down order against rescuing Ambassador Ison from the Sunhadists!"

Re:It is a government Konspiracy! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46941869)

Nah, it's global warming

(panic)

Re:It is a government Konspiracy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46942029)

not far off.. I knew someone who firmly believed that global warming was caused my us, but rather than greenhouse effect causing it, it was because our pollution was causing the sun to get hotter... so if you believe like they did, yes global warming was the cause. if it wasn't the sun wouldn't be as hot, and comet ison might have survived.

This is why the public stopped giving a fuck... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46941591)

about astronomy. Time and time again those kooks made wild-ass claims to get the media's attention, and they never delivered. Not once. Over and over again, they lie and claim there are going to be visible meteor storms. In my 52 years, I have never seen one. Not one. They lie. I've spent many hours with a telecope looking for comets, and again, they lied. I haven't seen a one. I even borrowed a $3k telescope from work to try to see Hailey's commet. I didn't see that comet like I couldn't see this one last fall. They also lie about being able to see other planets. The evening news here even quoted a liar professor from the Univeristy of Washington claiming venus could be seen brightly in their shot of the city. I quickly went outside to see the same dot he pointed at, and it didn't take long for me to realize that it was the lights from a plane that landed at Payne Field, probably a Boeing test flight. Again, they lie over and over again. The publicly just doesn't buy their lies any longer. They have no credibility and are responsible for destroying the public's interest in astronomy and space.

Re:This is why the public stopped giving a fuck... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46941667)

Yeah, and they also put artist renditions of shit on news stories about astronomy. Makes it seem much sexier than it really is. I agree. All lies.

Re:This is why the public stopped giving a fuck... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46941687)

Question for you... are you looking at the sky at night, or during the day?

Re:This is why the public stopped giving a fuck... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46943991)

With a "$3k telescope", assuming not some empty cardboard tube with "telskop" written on the side sold in some back alley "deal," you can actually do some planetary and comet observations during the day. You won't see much, mainly Venus and Jupiter, and it sucks compared to night and some just do it for the novelty, but you would still see something.

Re:This is why the public stopped giving a f (1)

sethradio (2603921) | about 6 months ago | (#46941699)

about astronomy. Time and time again those kooks made wild-ass claims to get the media's attention, and they never delivered. Not once. Over and over again, they lie and claim there are going to be visible meteor storms. In my 52 years, I have never seen one. Not one. They lie. I've spent many hours with a telecope looking for comets, and again, they lied. I haven't seen a one. I even borrowed a $3k telescope from work to try to see Hailey's commet. I didn't see that comet like I couldn't see this one last fall. They also lie about being able to see other planets. The evening news here even quoted a liar professor from the Univeristy of Washington claiming venus could be seen brightly in their shot of the city. I quickly went outside to see the same dot he pointed at, and it didn't take long for me to realize that it was the lights from a plane that landed at Payne Field, probably a Boeing test flight. Again, they lie over and over again. The publicly just doesn't buy their lies any longer. They have no credibility and are responsible for destroying the public's interest in astronomy and space.

By "the public" this guy means people who are just to cheap to afford glasses...

...and don't have any intelligence...

..and don't know how to write. Allow me to add a few examples:

"I haven't seen a one"
"The publicly just doesn't buy their lies any longer."
and what's a "telecope?"
and it's halley's comet.

Re:This is why the public stopped giving a f (4, Funny)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 6 months ago | (#46941759)

what's a "telecope?"

It's a device for accepting something and dealing with it from a distance, obviously.

I've spent many hours with a telecope looking for comets, and again, they lied.

Clearly, this poster has been so badly affected by astronomers' lies that he has now turned to calling his therapist whenever he feels the need to look at the sky. It's a coping mechanism, executed remotely: a telecope.

Re:This is why the public stopped giving a f (4, Funny)

Lumpy (12016) | about 6 months ago | (#46941999)

I use a telecope for dealing with relatives. I could never handle them up close.

Re:This is why the public stopped giving a f (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about 6 months ago | (#46944709)

I use a microscope for dealing with my distant relatives.

Re:This is why the public stopped giving a fuck... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46941805)

going to be visible meteor storms.

The whole visible meteor shower thing is a Hollywood creation. Yes, astronomers deserve our scorn for not fighting hard enough against that lie, but I don't think they created it. I know in my many years of camping, I have never seen a meteor even during the peak astronomy hysteria of Nov 2009 for the Leonids. Astronomy shams that teach at colleges really took advantage of that fake self-created event to get their fifteen minutes of fame. Of course we were all disappointed because the astronomers on TV were full of crap. There was nothing to see.

Re:This is why the public stopped giving a fuck... (3, Informative)

bobbied (2522392) | about 6 months ago | (#46941889)

I don't know where you camp in you urban back yard or something? I've seen meteor showers first hand and they do happen, often when the astronomers predict them. But I also go to places which are far from urban lights to see them and you have to understand what a meteor shower looks like. It's not hundreds of shooting stars like a fireworks display but one every so often. Sometimes it takes a bit of trying to see them because you have to wait for your night vision to return, and then it can take time to actually observe much.

Ah, the memories of my childhood out on the farm. We would go out in the field, lay on our back and watch such events sometimes. Good times..

Re:This is why the public stopped giving a fuck... (5, Funny)

aevan (903814) | about 6 months ago | (#46942169)

Totally fabricated. NASA with a high-altitude test plane throwing out rocks to simulate showers.

I know this for fact: when younger, I went out on the roof and watched a beautiful meteor shower (persieds believe was 'named')...

...but then they announced budget cuts to NASA. There was less money in astronomy. Shuttles started getting issues launching to cover up this reduced budget. During every subsequent 'meteor shower' that was scheduled... the skies were overcast all night, and the sound of planes could be heard infrequently.

The truth couldn't be more obvious: NASA could no longer afford to dump rocks to fake the showers anymore. The showers were scheduled though, even if the money for the special effects was lacking. Instead, they just seeded the clouds to force poor visibility so the myth of the meteor shower could continue onwards. Even as I type this now, the weather forecast gives days of sunny weather, but overcast or rainy evenings. How much longer must this go on? We must either return NASA's budget back to its Hollywood Effects heyday, or admit to ourselves... space is just really really empty, and 'space stuff' is just a lie.

Re:This is why the public stopped giving a fuck... (2)

sysrammer (446839) | about 6 months ago | (#46945289)

Oh lord, you realize you just started another conspiracy theory, right? I should start an email chain tonight, attributing this to some vague authority. I wonder how long it would take to propagate.

not as long (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46946753)

as it takes you to understand sarcasm apparently, funny sarcasm at that!

Re:This is why the public stopped giving a fuck... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46944745)

Watching a meteor shower is slightly more exciting than watching paint dry.

Re:This is why the public stopped giving a fuck... (1)

sysrammer (446839) | about 6 months ago | (#46945293)

Leonids. November 2001. Never to be forgotten.

Re:This is why the public stopped giving a fuck... (1)

DMUTPeregrine (612791) | about 6 months ago | (#46944803)

Hell, I've seen meteor showers from an urban backyard. Sure, they have to be particularly bright, but they can be visible. The 2002 Leonids were quite easy to see.

Re:This is why the public stopped giving a fuck... (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about 6 months ago | (#46942537)

I've been out camping and seen several shooting stars in a matter of minutes. That being said, a shooting star is just that, a tiny pin prick of light flying across the sky in less than a second, it's not anything spectacular to look at (except of course, if you know what it is and what it means). I have, however, seen a single fireball meteor, which as far as I understand is a very rare experience. It was bright enough to light up the ground for a couple seconds, like someone igniting some lighter fluid a couple dozen meters away.

Re:This is why the public stopped giving a fuck... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46942157)

Rather than lash out at a troll, I'd suggest you get your vision checked specifically for nigh-vision. You might be one of a non-trivial set of people who have a significant congenital night-vision deficiency. In modern society, it's easy to not notice, as our urban and suburban environments have significant light pollution and modern man doesn't go into the dark. Alternatively, perhaps you haven't escaped the light pollution adequately to be able to see them, or live somewhere that's so humid that it's hard to see the sky.

Re:This is why the public stopped giving a fuck... (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about 6 months ago | (#46942499)

You're 52 years old, with enough of an interest in astronomy to have a telescope, and you couldn't manage to pick Hale-Bopp out of the night sky? The damn thing was the size of a full moon in rural light conditions. It was by far the brightest thing in the sky other than the moon.

Re:This is why the public stopped giving a fuck... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46944035)

I know it is just a troll, but you get people from time to time that buy a telescope because it advertises some insanely high magnification, then with it set up at that magnification they wonder why they can't find anything in the sky. Or they find a star, and have it so out of focus they think they can see the surface of the star when they see a big circle.

Re:This is why the public stopped giving a fuck... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46945391)

> Hale-Bopp

I remember the irrational hype for that one. I remember it well because I took my son's boy scout troop camping in April 1997 on my 35th birthday. Of course we didn't see a damn thing. It was all hype with no factual backing. We were on the other side of the Olympic mountains from Seattle. You could see more than fifty stars versus the usual five or six. There was very little light polution there, but of course the media as usual lied about how you could see it without special equipment.

Re:This is why the public stopped giving a fuck... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46946933)

I could see it unaided...from inside my apartment in the downtown of a ~500k population city. If you could see any stars at all, you could see the comet since it was as bright as the brightest star. You didn't even need to wait for dusk.

You could see more than fifty stars versus the usual five or six. There was very little light polution there

Either there was a lot of light pollution, or you have cataracts (or you are just making it up...), as a half way decent viewing site should let you see ~5000 stars, not just fifty.

Re:This is why the public stopped giving a fuck... (1)

Muad'Dave (255648) | about 6 months ago | (#46949503)

... a half way decent viewing site should let you see ~5000 stars ...

Recent data suggests [earthsky.org] there are between 5000 and 6000 stars visible to the naked eye in both hemispheres, so any one person could only see at most about 2500-3000 at a time, and some of those would be obscured by haze at the horizon.

Nevertheless, a heck of a lot more than 50.

Re:This is why the public stopped giving a fuck... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46950651)

I could see it unaided...from inside my apartment

I'm not calling BS, but I would love a picture an apartment with a see through roof. I've never seen or heard of such. It must get dirty. How do you keep it clean enough to be able to see stars?

Re:This is why the public stopped giving a fuck... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46952447)

You've never seen the sky from a window before? Do you live in a basement or at least in a deep valley?

Now I just feel like a jerk (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46941611)

It's just look like the time I was cheering a big daytime fireworks display.

Then I found out it was a fireworks plant exploding. Oh the humanity...

Second most spectacular Comet Death (4, Informative)

ackthpt (218170) | about 6 months ago | (#46941615)

First, of course was Shoemaker-Levy 9.

And we're not counting people who don tracksuits, Nikes and scarf deadly pudding whenever they see a big comet scooting by.

Re:Second most spectacular Comet Death (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 6 months ago | (#46943627)

This seems to be a standard practice. Detect a new comet, predict that it will be the most spectacular viewing during our lifetimes, then whistle innocently when no one actually sees it.

Space-age Science (5, Funny)

holophrastic (221104) | about 6 months ago | (#46941619)

Big ball of ice surprisingly vanished behind big ball of fire, analysis to follow.

Yup, we've come a long way in our understanding of the universe.

Re:Space-age Science (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 6 months ago | (#46943343)

Your comment will go over like a snowball in hell.

Icarus (4, Funny)

mspohr (589790) | about 6 months ago | (#46941629)

I think Icarus had the same problem.

Re:Icarus (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about 6 months ago | (#46941895)

Don't know how, they ran out of space on their rock, I mean calendar, a long time ago. I guess it's easier for us today, just call Franklin Covey for a refill and BOOM, another year appears.

meh (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 6 months ago | (#46941803)

You know what they say: easy comet, easy go

Re:meh (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about 6 months ago | (#46941955)

LOL

Yea, I think you really cleaned up on that.....

Just remember Jo, "Nothing can hold a can to Comet!"

Obligatory meme (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46941823)

http://www.quickmeme.com/img/f3/f3b08db35696ec4e3a3ea453a1a067728707bcf7e256ed56a1b9561933ca14db.jpg

batting average (2)

micahraleigh (2600457) | about 6 months ago | (#46941983)

I don't think these guys can forecast climate/astronomy/species origination enough to cut off debate.

Not sure why anyone was surprised (3, Insightful)

DarkFencer (260473) | about 6 months ago | (#46942031)

All the coverage I saw (from astronomy writers, NASA, etc.) said there was definitely a chance of it burning up.

If the non-science media hyped it up somewhat, well they do that for everything. Yes, I a (and many others watched for ISON). Yes, we were disappointed, but no one should have been surprised.

Re:Not sure why anyone was surprised (1)

steelfood (895457) | about 6 months ago | (#46944615)

I think witnessing a comet burn off its remaining supply of water and go dark could hardly be called disappointing.

T'was a beautiful comet... (2)

CheshireDragon (1183095) | about 6 months ago | (#46942297)

...while it lasted. Especially through my 20cm Newtonian. so bright, so bold.

No wonder you can't see it... (1)

SnapShot (171582) | about 6 months ago | (#46942387)

... its coming right at us!!!!!

Noooooo! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46942559)

There were hidden mother-ships under control of the mayan-anastassi-egyptian-sireans who are at this moment hiding in the sun's corona and awaiting orders to scoop up the true-believers on earth.

It's true because it says so on the internet.

ISON didn't "vanish", and DID emerge (1)

artao (648799) | about 6 months ago | (#46951361)

This write-up is misleading.
It states, "But as astronomers watched on the evening of 28 November, the brightly flaring Ison moved behind the Sun but never emerged."
That is wrong. ISON DID in fact emerge. Just not as a cohesive comet. What emerged was a "fan" of dust and debris.
It's not like ISON simply disappeared with no trace and no one saw it.

Very not strange indeed (1)

george1101 (2792359) | about 5 months ago | (#46964309)

all life is just a result of causal interactions mixed up with another dimension called "time". we call an asteroids disintegration strange because we simply do not have the causal intuition needed to realise it is not strange. My prognosis is lack of knowledge I recommend all the affected people need to be prescribed with a healthy dose of Mathematics, Physics & and foundation of Science. Provided by a truthful discovery applicator using in conjunction with healthy curiosity.
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