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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

ISON Appears to be Well and Truly Dead

From PBS Newshour:

NASA confirmed Tuesday that Comet ISON did not survive its journey around the sun, vaporized by solar radiation.


"Though the exact time of ISON's death is uncertain, it does appear to be no more," C. Alex Young of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center told AFP in an email, "All that is left is a cloud of debris without a nucleus."


In a memoriam on NASA's Comet ISON Observing Campaign website, Karl Battams writes that the celestial body was "born 4.5 billion BC, fragmented Nov. 28, 2013 (age 4.5 billion yrs old)."
The Washington Post notes one small consolation:

Fortunately, a binocular object – albeit the dim Comet Lovejoy – rambles through our northern morning skies this week.
 
At best, it’s a fifth magnitude object, which means you cannot spy Comet Lovejoy (C/2013 R1) without binoculars or a small telescope. You may be able to find it around 5 – 5:30 a.m. – if you have a good view of north-northeast, says Geoff Chester of the U.S. Naval Observatory. For reference, Comet Lovejoy loiters between the Big Dipper (Ursa Major) and the Bootes constellations, but it’s moving quickly. By next week, it will be lower on the horizon, dimmer and very hard to find as it moves toward Hercules. 
Mike Lewis, a member of the Northern Virginia Astronomy Club (NOVAC), caught Comet Lovejoy on camera Dec. 1 at about 5 a.m., near Aldie, Va. “Comet Lovejoy is not visible naked eye, but viewable with binoculars as a ‘fuzzy star’,” says Lewis, who explains the coma portion does not have a green tint, like that found with Comet ISON. “A small telescope will reveal a very short wispy tail.”

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