Scientists and astronomers all over the world are readying their equipment in preparation of the ‘Comet of the Century’ as it fast approaches our neck of the woods. Comet C/2012 S1, also known as comet ISON, is expected to be one of the brightest objects ever known to man to cross our skies (other than the sun, of course). The object will be visible in late November 2013 with the closest pass to Earth being November 28, 2013. The comet is said to be unusual primarily because of it’s trajectory toward the inner solar system and just how close it will pass the sun.
One particular project of interest, BRRISON (Balloon Rapid Response for ISON) will send a helium filled balloon more than 20 miles above the surface of Earth for one day to capture images of the object that scientists say will be about as good as what the Hubble Space Telescope can get “at a tiny fraction of the cost”, according to Eliot Young.
While many say that ISON will be a spectacular site, some scientists believe the 3 mile long comet will fizzle out before it nears earth and will create unusual meteor showers out of the more than 110,000 pounds of dust and 130 pounds of water it’s losing every minute in space at the present time. Unfortunately, the majority of these meteor showers will not be visible to those of us on the ground without high tech equipment. Much of the debris can take as long as months or years to settle out of our atmosphere and fall towards the surface of the planet, while only a few bits will be visible to the naked eye.