Fingers crossed for great comet watching weather early Saturday (2013)
OMSI Comet Viewing Party at Milo McIver Nov. 23
Early risers can join the experts in tracking comets ISON and Lovejoy this Saturday,
5-7 a.m., in the Milo McIver State Park equestrian lot.
Comet ISON, billed as the “comet of the century,” is less than 43 million miles from the Sun and will be within Mercury’s orbit on Nov. 23. ISON will come to perihelion (its closest approach to the Sun) on Nov. 28, passing about 680,000 miles above the Sun’s surface. At that time, the comet will either break apart because of the Sun’s intense energy or survive the journey and continue around the Sun.
While Comet ISON is getting all the attention, Comet Lovejoy will be nearly as bright as Comet ISON.
See both the comets through telescopes provided by OMSI (Oregon Museum of Science and Industry), the Rose City Astronomers and Oregon State Parks. OMSI Space Science Director Jim Todd will be available for informal talks about the comets and the autumn night sky. Mercury and Saturn also will be visible near ISON, and the International Space Station will be visible at 5:16 a.m.
On the day of the Comet Viewing Party, call the OMSI Star Parties Hotline, (503) 797-4000 #3 then #5, or check the OMSI Star Parties website http://www.omsi.edu/starparties for possible weather-related cancellations. The event is free. Day-use parking is $5 per vehicle.
Dress for cold weather. If you can, bring a flashlight with a red light. Personal telescopes and binoculars are always welcome. The park is located 23 miles southeast of Portland.
This ISON photograph was produced by the European Southern Observatory (ESO) on Nov. 15 at the ESO’s La Silla Observatory in the southern Atacama desert, Chile. Click on the photo for information about the TRAPPIST national telescope and Comet ISON.