Comet ISON, Other Comets to Witness in 2013: How and When to View the Spectacle


Astronomers and professional sky surveys often discover new comets yearly and 2013 offers a spectacular comet experience to the sky viewers. Three long-tailed comets are anticipated to brighten up the skies and become visible to the naked eye.

Comet ISON is currently creating a buzz with its upcoming close approach to the Sun on November 28 and the planet Earth on December 26. This particular comet is included in the special category of comets called the "sungrazers" that makes a very near pass by to the Sun once it entered the inner Solar System.

Aside from the Comet ISON, listed below are the other comets expected to be seen this 2013:

1.       Comet PANSTARRS (C/2011 L4). Australian sky viewers have watched the comet grow into a spectacular sight both at dusk and dawn in the past week. Recent brightness of the comet indicates that it could be experiencing another surge or "second wind."

If the current brightness of comet PANSTARRS continues, it might reach the 1st or 2nd magnitude or become a little brighter compared to the stars of the Big Dipper. Then, the comet will become visible for spectators on the northern hemisphere approximately on March 7.

The comet's orbit will make its closest approach to the Sun until March 10. Then, the slim lunar crescent will connect with the PANSTARRS for an uncommon graphic pairing on March 12.

2.       Comet Lemmon (C/2012 F6). The comet is currently coursing its way on the Tucana the Toucan constellation. Though comet Lemmon is gradually diminishing from planet Earth this month, it can still be visible as it further approaches the Sun.

Comet Lemmon will circle around the Sun on March 24 then will return into the morning sky close to the Square of Pegasus asterism in early May. Viewers may be fortunate enough to view the comet with the use of normal binoculars.

3.       Comet Encke (2P/Encke). For the year 2013, comet Encke will make its 62nd return within planet Earth's surrounding area. The comet is predicted not to be bright or visible but there is a chance of a fine comet Encke viewing with modest-sized telescopes as it glows just about the 8th magnitude when it travels between the Big Dipper and Leo the Lion on October.

How to find then monitor the comets approaching this 2013? Sky watchers will need the following items and area conditions:

1.       An open view of the horizon.

2.       A clear and haze-free sky at dusk.

3.       A pair of binoculars or telescopes.

4.       A map.

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