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Matt's World Of Weather: Want To See A Comet?

Novichonok-Nevski
Sure the name doesn’t roll of the tongue, but should everything hold together, this one will become a regular on the list. Novichonok-Nevski (2012 S1) was discovered in September 2012 by two Russians (thus all the syllables) and is currently about 615 million miles from Earth. Hale-Bopp was known for its brightness and this was largely due to its size, nearly 10 miles across. Novichonok-Nevski is predicted to be brighter not because of the size, but because of its close proximity to the sun. Look for this comet coming to an evening sky near you in late Novemeber:

Closest It Got To The Sun (Perihelion):
Halley’s Comet (1986) – 54 Million Miles
Hale-Bopp (1997) – 84 Million Miles
Novichonok-Nevski (2013) – 1 Million Miles

While Hale-Bopp was 5 times bigger than Novichonok-Nevski, the close passage to our light source will result in a brightness that will match, if not, exceed that of the 1997 event. For those looking to get a head start on preparing for next year, I would recommend going out and just becoming familiar with our night sky. Get comfortable finding the Big Dipper, Orion’s Belt or the North Star. All of this will come in handy when the comet appears. Estimated time of arrival is Fall of 2013.

Few things compare to watching a comet pass across our night sky. Unlike shooting stars, a comet is slow enough to study through the nights, but fast enough that you only have a short window of opportunity to see it. They are big enough to stretch across 34 football fields, but small enough to be discovered only a year or two before anticipated arrival. For those lucky few that “spot the dot” first, they get the honor of naming the newly discovered object (I’m having flashbacks to a Simpson’s episode). Add to that the rarity of such an event and you have the ingredients for a “Once in a Lifetime” situation.

Personally, the most fascinating part of the entire event is how you go about viewing the comet. Watching Hale-Bopp in 1997 I can still remember being told, “To see the tail, you have to look away from the tail. Don’t look directly at it”. By doing this I was treated to not one, but two tails streaking behind the glowing white dot. It was truly amazing. Regarding the most recent comet discovery, 2013 may bring us something much brighter than the 1997 Hale-Bopp comet.


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