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The Strange Death of Comet Ison 49

KentuckyFC (1144503) writes "Last year, astronomers announced that a small ball of ice and rock heading towards the inner Solar System could turn out to be the most eye-catching comet in living memory. They calculated that Comet Ison's orbit would take it behind the Sun but that it would then head towards Earth where it would put on a spectacular display of heavenly fireworks. Sure enough, Ison brightened dramatically as it headed Sunwards. But as astronomers watched on the evening of 28 November, the brightly flaring Ison moved behind the Sun but never emerged. The comet simply disappeared. Now a new analysis of the death of Ison suggests that the comet was doomed long before it reached the Sun. Images from several Sun-observing spacecraft that had a unique view of events, indicate that Ison exhausted its supply of water and other ice in the final flare-ups as it approached the Sun. The new study shows that all that was left in its last hours were a few hundred thousands pebbles glowing brightly as they vaporized in the Sun's heat. In fact, Comet Ison died in full view of the watching hordes of astronomers on Earth who did not realize what they were watching at the time."
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The Strange Death of Comet Ison

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  • by ackthpt ( 218170 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2014 @01:30PM (#46941615) Homepage Journal

    First, of course was Shoemaker-Levy 9.

    And we're not counting people who don tracksuits, Nikes and scarf deadly pudding whenever they see a big comet scooting by.

  • by bobbied ( 2522392 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2014 @02:03PM (#46941889)

    I don't know where you camp in you urban back yard or something? I've seen meteor showers first hand and they do happen, often when the astronomers predict them. But I also go to places which are far from urban lights to see them and you have to understand what a meteor shower looks like. It's not hundreds of shooting stars like a fireworks display but one every so often. Sometimes it takes a bit of trying to see them because you have to wait for your night vision to return, and then it can take time to actually observe much.

    Ah, the memories of my childhood out on the farm. We would go out in the field, lay on our back and watch such events sometimes. Good times..

Q: How many IBM CPU's does it take to execute a job? A: Four; three to hold it down, and one to rip its head off.