Daily Illuminator

January 18, 2013: A Good Year For Comets

And a bad year for people who think they're evil omens. Fortunately, we don't know anyone who still believes in nonsense like this, right?

The first will be Comet PANSTARRS, discovered late in 2011. Its best viewing will be in March, when it may just become a naked-eye object in dark skies . . . or may shine as brightly as Venus. (See the linked article for a GREAT quote from veteran comet discoverer David Levy.)

The second is Comet ISON, which will get very close to the sun in November, and may be visible to most observers as early as October. Right now, the hope is that ISON will be the brightest comet in decades, possibly even visible in the daytime, but . . . well, go read the David Levy quote again.

Viewing comets is a great way to get people interested in astronomy, so why not grab a friend or a favorite niece or nephew and share the experience?

-- Andrew Hackard

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