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November Night Skies and Comet ISON

By Dr. N. T. Jiwaji

There is a comet in the sky! Will we see it? Comet ISON has een a talkin! "oint since its #isco$ery at the en# o% last year. &'rther o ser$ations "ointe# to it ecomin! "ossi ly the ri!htest comet o% all time eca'se it has come %or the %irst time %rom its ori!in in the Oort Clo'# at the e(treme e#!e o% the Solar System) *+)+++ times the #istance o% the S'n. ,lso) it will t'rn the corner aro'n# the S'n when it is e(tremely close to the S'n. Comet ISON is c'rrently a""roachin! the S'n an# is set to come closest on No$em er -.) when it will e only /++)+++ kilometers %rom the S'n0s s'r%ace) well within its atmos"here. , comet is a com"act o#y o% ice mi(e# with e(tremely %ine #'st. The ice melts when the comet comes close to the S'n0s heat an# the %ine #'st is "'she# away y the solar win# "articles) an# a s"ectac'lar tail %orms. The $ery %act that Comet ISON comes so close to the S'n can e oth a oon an# ane. S'ch a close a""roach will e$a"orate most o% the ice releasin! a h'!e #'st tail that may e seen in roa# #ayli!ht. Or the heatin! com ine# with e(treme !ra$ity will reak it '" makin! it too small to e seen %rom 1arth. , "ict're taken on No$em er 23 shows the comet with a clearly $isi le thick tail) 't a%ter three #ays the tail ecame three times lon!er. Comet ISON is now at 2* #e!rees a o$e the eastern hori4on at #awn an# ri!htenin! tho'!h lowerin! #ay y #ay as it a""roaches the closest to the S'n on No$em er -.. With a clear eastern hori4on yo' sho'l# e a le to make it o't with nake# eyes. Sat'rn an# 5erc'ry are also seen close to the comet. Thro'!h inoc'lars or telesco"e yo' may e a le to #etect its !reen

colo'r also. ,%ter No$em er -.) it will e an 'ncertain %'t're as the whole worl# awaits its %ate 6 a comet o% the cent'ry or %i44le# snow all. We kee" o'r %in!ers crosse#. 7o' can %ollow the "ro!ress o% Comet ISON at the we site8 htt"899www.isoncam"ai!n.or!9 an# %or o ser$ations s"eci%ic %or Tan4ania yo' can %ollow the "ro!ress on htt"8www.astronomyintan4ania.or.t49 In the e$enin! sky) :en's has "eake# its hei!ht at ;3 #e!rees a o$e the western hori4on at s'nset an# is rea#y to o'tshine itsel% e$en %'rther as it comes closer to 's. Thro'!h a telesco"e it makes a ea'ti%'l si!ht the sha"e o% an e$er thinner crescent as #ays !o y. The est crescent can e $iewe# %rom the en# o% the month. On Decem er * crescent 5oon will "ro$i#e a ea'ti%'l arran!ement with :en's in the eastern sky close to each other with crescent 5oon elow an# to the ri!ht o% rilliant :en's) which itsel% will e seen as a crescent thro'!h a telesco"e. By the en# o% Decem er :en's will ha$e reache# its closest to 's an# in line with the S'n hence will #isa""ear elow the western hori4on) "re"arin! to re<a""ear %rom ehin# the S'n as a mornin! star two weeks later. The ,n#rome#a !ala(y) the %arthest !ala(y =at - million li!ht<years away> that we can see with o'r nake# eyes is close to the S?'are o% @e!as's nearer to the northern hori4on) while o'r nearest !ala(y) =at hal% a million li!ht<years>) the So'th 5e!allanic Clo'#) lies at the o""osite en# o% the sky in the so'th) etween ,chernar an# the so'th celestial "ole. In relati$ely #ark skies) oth !ala(ies a""ear as %'44y "atches a o't ; #e!rees across =; %in!ers hel# at an arm0s len!th>. The ri!ht stars this month that are worth knowin! y name are8 ,> &omalha't) B> ,ltaAr) C> Dene in Cy!n's =the northern ir#>) D> :e!a) 1> ,chenar an# lastly &> ,l#e aran) which is in constellation Ta'r's j'st risin! in the east. These are all %irst ma!nit'#e stars. ,l!ol in @erse's is a s"ecial star eca'se it $aries contin'o'sly in ri!htness a""ro(imately e$ery three #ays. The 5ilky Way an# across the sky win#s its way %rom so'th west to north east) stra##lin! the western hori4on so it #oes not cross the sky. Bence this month most o% the sky will a""ear to ha$e rather %ew stars eca'se it is well away %rom the ri!ht an#. Ne(t Sat'r#ay) No$em er 3+) the International S"ace Station will "ass rilliantly across the sky %rom so'th west hori4on %rom /8-* "m) towar#s north east an# #isa""ear while still hi!h in the sky at /83+ "m when the s'nli!ht can no lon!er strike the s"ace station as it enters 1arth0s sha#ow.