Skip to main content

Comet PanSTARRS and Comet ISON update

The first of 2013's two possible Great Comets will reach its peak two months from now.

is still far enough away that it could be either a treat or a disappointment. It will make its closest approach to the Earth March 5. Perihelion (its closest approach to the Sun) will be on March 7. Current estimates are that it will be somewhere between magnitude 3 (not even naked eye) and magnitude -0.5- brighter than Comet Hyukatake was in 1996.

Comet ISON, which will be at its best in late in November, may well blow PanSTARRS away, though. A sun-grazer which may boast one of the longest dust tails on record, there is an excellent chance that ISON may be a daylight comet. Yes, that's right: like Comet McNaught  in 2006-2007 (which put on its best show in the southern hemisphere), ISON may well be visible in the daytime. Estimates are that ISON may reach somewhere between  magnitudes -6 and -13.1. Comet Hale-Bopp in 1997 had an apparent magnitude of -10.5. But there's a catch. Well, two of them, actually. First, ISON will best be viewed after perihelion, and sun-grazers which come as close to our local star as ISON will often break up. And second, its time as a daylight comet may be brief- and happen when  it is so close to the sun that it may be hard to look at.  ISON reaches perihelion on November 28. at which time we all need to say a prayer and hold our breath that it emerges from its encounter with Old Sol in one piece.

At its closest approach Comet PanSTARRS will be 1.10 AU from Earth (1.1 times Earth's distance from the Sun). ISON will actually be a "near miss" for us earthlings, coming within a mere two million miles of us. . It has been compared to the Great Comet of 1680 (above, right), whose orbit was similar.


Popular posts from this blog

McMullin, Kasich, Hickenlooper, Huntsman, or somebody else sane in 2020!

I don't expect to be disenfranchised in 2020. I'm looking forward to Evan McMullin running against President Trump and whatever left-wing extremist the Democrats nominate. McMullin may or may not run for the Senate next year, and he may or may not run for president as an independent again next time around, but the nation can't afford to lose its most eloquent and intelligent critic of the populist takeover of the Republican party and the Executive Branch. We need the man in public life.

But interesting alternatives have developed. Ohio Gov. John Kasich has been mentioned as a potential primary challenger for Mr. Trump. I hope somebody continues the fight for the soul of my former party, even though I believe it to be a lost cause. Entrepreneur Mark Cuban is reportedly also considering a challenge to Mr. Trump. While I tend to see him at this point as somewhere to the left of where a candidate I would feel comfortable supporting might be, I would wish him well. Still, I see…

A modest proposal for a shocking innovation which is completely within the rules but which would, if adopted, revolutionize college football

I call it defense.

The idea- crazy as it may sound- is to supplement the scoring of points by your offense with an attempt to stop the other team from scoring them. Yeah, I know.  Really "out there," isn't it? But it has a history of winning not only games but championships. Modern college teams should try it more.

I'm a bit bummed about the Rose Bowl outcome but amused by the score. It seems that certain conferences aren't sure whether they're playing college football or high school basketball! I've noticed that in the scores of Sooner games. Last season the nation's college teams set a record by scoring an average of slightly more than 30 points each per game. That's a lot. Historically, that's a REAL lot.

The final score of the Rose Bowl was 54-48, though to be fair that was in double overtime. But to get there, the teams had to be tied 45-45 at the end of regulation! Last year was even worse. Southern Cal beat Penn State 52-49- in regulat…

A third party President in 2020?

I had the pleasure of meeting Joel Searsby, the campaign manager for Evan McMullin last year, at an event for Evan here in Des Moines during the campaign. Here's an interview with Joel by Jon Ward of Yahoo News on the ways in which centrist French President Emmanuel Marcon's out-of-nowhere landslide election last year may serve as an example for the inevitable bid to elect a rational, moderate third party candidate in 2020.

I have a feeling that it will be Evan McMullin again. But names like John Kasich, the Governor of Ohio, and Sen. Lindsey Graham also keep popping up. Word is that Kasich may challenge President Trump for the 2020 Republican nomination, an endeavor in which I'd wish him well but hold out very, very little hope for his success. I sadly expect that my conviction that the Republicans are dead as a vehicle for rationality and the reuniting of our fractured and divided country to be confirmed by the easy renomination of the most unfit and unqualified preside…