ISON Postmortem

After the flyby, death, apparent rebirth and finality of comet ISON scientist are declaring victory.

Due to the hype and the composition of ISON, it was one of the most widely viewed comets to pass through the solar system.  Telescopes and other instruments were trained on ISON to gather as much data as possible.

Even extra-terrestrial observations from the rovers and orbiters on and around Mars collected data on this first time visitor.  All the data collected is now being studied intently to help glean some insights to the formation of our solar system.

Some reports have already discussed the composition and make-up of ISON from spectrographic readings.  Thanks to Tom Field for the image above (anyone with a DSLR camera can take spectra like this using Tom’s software at www.rspec-astro.com).

Other scientists presented results from the comet’s last days at the 2013 Fall American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco, Calif.  They described how ISON lost mass before reaching perihelion and most likely broke up during its closest approach, as well as theorizing what this means for determining ISON’s composition.  Other researchers are analyzing the comet’s tail and comparing that with other comets to determine all the facts possible.

Although ISON didn’t live up to the hype, the comets plunge to its death around the Sun has still provided cometologists with plenty of data for years to come.  So a final farewell to comet ISON, we hardly knew you.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

ISON Update.

If you haven’t heard yet, there’s a comet heading our way.

ISON is supposed to be the comet of the century!   So all eyes (and telescopes) have been observing what may be the one and only pass for ISON through the solar system.

Recently, astronomers using the Spitzer Space Telescope observed what appears to be strong carbon dioxide emissions from the Comet.

So what do these carbon emissions mean? Well it helps to determine what type of comet ISON is.  Although some dispute the vernacular, ISON is most likely a “dirty snowball” comet.

Carey Lisse, leader of NASA’s Comet ISON Observation Campaign said: “We estimate ISON is emitting about 2.2 million pounds of what is most likely carbon dioxide gas and about 120 million pounds of dust every day.”

Scientist are hopeful that all the data collected from ISON’s passing will shed some light on the formation of the solar system.  But because of its trajectory and composition, there is a real probability the ISON may fall into the Sun or get broken into multiple pieces like Shoemaker-Levy 9 did before plowing into Jupiter.  Another possibility is that the trip around the Sun will alter ISON’s orbit so radically that it will leave the solar system forever.

Hopefully, they get all the data they need.  This may be a one and done trip.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Summer Showers with a Chance of Rock.

As we move into the middle of the summer it is time to start planning your meteorite shower parties!

2012 Meteor shower chart

The chart above will help you plan to watch these awesome events.  Well, some are more awesome than others.

Of course some of the most popular meteor showers are the Perseid and the Geminid showers.  As my birthday is in August, I am partial to the Perseids.  Also, it is warmer.  A lot warmer.

I mean really, the Geminid’s are nice and everything, but come on!  All night in the middle of December!  I live in California, I freeze if it drops below 50 degrees F any more.

So what exactly causes these annual displays in the night sky?  Meteor showers always seem to come from one point in the night sky.  Basically these meteors are caused by streams of cosmic dust and debris, called meteoroids, entering Earth’s atmosphere. The dust and debris come from comets.  Every time a comet passes the Sun, it leaves a little trail of debris and dust behind.  As the Earth rotates around the Sun, we run into the remnants.

All the meteorites seem to come from the same place because they are all on  parallel paths, like looking down railroad tracks.

So how do you observe a meteor show?  Lucky for you I have a sure fire method of catching the best view possible for any given meteor shower:

Step 1:  Find a picnic table, or bring your own under a clear, dark sky (it really doesn’t even have to be that dark, just clear).

Step 2: lay back on said picnic table.

Step 3: Open eyes at scheduled time (set alarms as needed).

Step 4: Enjoy the show.

By the way, you can bring the whole family along.  All meteor showers are rated G by the MPAA (Many Perusing Astronomers Association).

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

A Stereo Lemmon.

This weekend NASA’s Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory (STEREO) spacecraft captured comet Lemmon at it traped across the face of the Sun.

Animation of Comet 2012 F6 Lemmon as seen from NASA's STEREO ahead spacecraft. (Credit: NASA/GFSC; animation created by Robert Kaufman).

Its like 3D!  Of course that is the whole point of the STEREO spacecraft.  The two nearly identical spacecraft – one ahead of Earth in its orbit, the other trailing behind – are normally used to trace the flow of energy and matter from the Sun to Earth.  STEREO has revealed the 3D structure of coronal mass ejections; violent eruptions of matter from the sun that can disrupt satellites and power grids.

We haven’t known this much about the star that gives us life ever.  But the images they provide are pretty spectacular as well.

Hopefully, we will get some great shots of ISON from STEREO as well.  Wow, I feel like I am back in the Navy using all these acronyms.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities.  Connect with me on Google +

Norman

First ISON images released.

Peering deep into space as usual, the Hubble Space Telescope has captured the first images of comet ISON.

Billed as the “comet of the century” because it could, at one point, be brighter than the full Moon.

Maybe.

A lot of if’s surround this comet.  If it is the right composition, if the water ratio is right, if the trajectory is correct, if it doesn’t breakup.  Many questions, not so many answers.  Since this is the first recorded pass of this comet in human history, nobody know for sure.

But getting the answers is all the fun!

The Hubble image above was taken on April 10, when the comet was slightly closer than Jupiter’s orbit at a distance of 386 million miles from the Sun.  As you can see, the tail is longer than Hubble’s field of view.

Hubble was used to image the comet because it is still 4.15 astronomical units (386 million miles) from the Sun and about 4.24 astronomical units (394 million miles) from Earth.  Even out there, the Sun is warming the comet enough to trigger outgassing jets of dust particles off the sunward-facing side of the comet.

Traveling at a mere 47,000 miles per hour, ISON should be visible in North America starting in late November thru December.

Let’s hope that this one lives up to the hype!

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities.  Connect with me on Google +

Norman

A swing and a miss!

With the start of the major league baseball season here, I thought it was an appropriate headline.

It turns out that comet C/2013 A1 that was going to hit Mars…well…isn’t.

Dang the bad luck! I mean really we have enough instrumentation on and around Mars that the images would have been spectacular to say the least. I may have affected some of the rovers, but probably not any more than the sand/dust storms that they are already subjected to on an annual basis.

Turns out that although the Universe is a shooting gallery, there is a lot of space in space.

There hasn’t been a really good comet crash since Shoemaker-Levy 9 impacted Jupiter. I would have even worked on my planetary imaging skills to take pictures of that event.

Sigh…maybe next time…as long as it isn’t headed toward us, that is. 😉

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney. As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +. If you need help with any patent, trademark, or copyright issue, or know someone that can use my help, please contact me for a free 30 minute consultation by sending me an email or call TOLL FREE at 1-855-UR IDEAS (1-855-874-3327) and ask for Norman.

Norman

The one is definitely a Lemmon.

No, that isn’t a mis-spelling.  Comet Lemmon should be visible in the north for the next month or so.

Image credit: Gabe Brammer

Gabe’s picture above is a fantastic shot of Pan-STARRS at the bottom, a meteor in the middle and comet Lemmon on top.

Gabe has obviously been blessed by the astrophotography and weather deities.  However, as you can see Lemmon will be a binocular object like Pan-STARRS.

This is also Lemmon’s first recorded trip through the solar system.  Lemmon has a very long orbital period of at least 11,000 years.  It also has an eccentric orbit traveling mostly perpendicular to the plane of the ecliptic.

If you have a clear southern exposure along with some binoculars (and some assistance from the gods noted above) you should be able to see a Lemmon in the sky.

Look for the greenish-blue blob in the sky.
http://www.oneminuteastronomer.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Comet-Lemmon-Panstarrs.jpg
It is a really good year for comets (at least for our friends in the southern hemisphere), so if the skies are clear, take a look to the south around sunset to try and catch another comet.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities.  Connect with me on Google +.  If you need help with any patent, trademark, or copyright issue, or know someone that can use my help, please contact me for a free 30 minute consultation by sending me an email or call TOLL FREE at 1-855-UR IDEAS (1-855-874-3327) and ask for Norman.

Norman