COBS News archive

Rare form of nitrogen detected in comet ISON
March 12, 2014
Astronomers observed the Comet ISON during its bright outburst in the middle of November 2013. Subaru Telescope's High Dispersion Spectrograph has detected two rare forms of nitrogen in the comet ISON. Their results support the hypothesis that there were two distinct reservoirs of nitrogen the massive, dense cloud ("solar nebula") from which our Solar System may have formed and evolved.

A good year to find a Comet
February 13, 2014
A team of European astronomers has found a previously unknown comet, detected as a tiny blob of light orbiting our Sun deep in the Solar System.

NASA Preparing for 2014 Comet Watch at Mars
January 31, 2014
This spring, NASA will be paying cautious attention to a comet that could put on a barnstorming show at Mars on Oct. 19, 2014. On that date, comet 2013 A1 Siding Spring will buzz Mars about 10 times closer than any identified comet has ever flown past Earth.

NASA Instruments on European Comet Spacecraft Begin Countdown
January 25, 2014
Three NASA science instruments are being prepared for check-out operations aboard the European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft, which is set to become the first to orbit a comet and land a probe on its nucleus in November.

Rosetta: 'Sleeping Beauty' Wakes Up from Deep Space Hibernation
January 21, 2014
It was a fairy-tale ending to a tense chapter in the story of the Rosetta space mission this evening as ESA heard from its distant spacecraft for the first time in 31 months.

Rosetta: To Chase a Comet
January 17, 2014
Comets are among the most beautiful and least understood nomads of the night sky. To date, half a dozen of these most heavenly of heavenly bodies have been visited by spacecraft in an attempt to unlock their secrets. All these missions have had one thing in common: the high-speed flyby. Like two ships passing in the night (or one ship and one icy dirtball), they screamed past each other at hyper velocity -- providing valuable insight, but fleeting glimpses, into the life of a comet. That is, until Rosetta.

'Standing On a Comet': Rosetta Mission Will Contribute to Space Weather Research
January 16, 2014
A comet-bound spacecraft that's been in sleep mode for more than two years is scheduled to wake up on the morning of Jan. 20 -- beginning the home stretch of its decade-long journey to a mile-wide ball of rock, dust and ice.

New Comet: C/2014 A4 (SONEAR)
January 16, 2014
Cbet nr. 3783, issued on 2014, January 16, announces the discovery of an apparently asteroidal object (discovery magnitude ~18.1) by Cristovao Jacques, Eduardo Pimentel, and Joao Ribeiro de Barros on CCD images obtained on Jan. 12.0 UT with a 0.45-m f/2.9 reflector of the Southern Observatory for Near Earth Research (SONEAR) at Oliveira, Brazil.

Comet ISON Is Still Dead
December 21, 2013
On December 18, 2013, the Hubble Space Telescope tried to observe Comet ISON one last time. As many people expected, there is no evidence of Comet ISON in these images.

Fire Vs. Ice: The Science of ISON at Perihelion
December 16, 2013
After a year of observations, scientists waited with bated breath on Nov. 28, 2013, as Comet ISON made its closest approach to the sun, known as perihelion. Would the comet disintegrate in the fierce heat and gravity of the sun? Or survive intact to appear as a bright comet in the pre-dawn sky?

Intricacy of Comet Lovejoy's Tail Captured
December 08, 2013
An international team of astronomers led by Prof. Jin Koda at Stony Brook University used Suprime-Cam, Subaru Telescope's wide-field, prime-focus camera, to capture an image of the intricate flow of Comet Lovejoy's (C/2013 R1) ion tail.

NASA Investigating the Life of Comet ISON
December 02, 2013
After several days of fading, scientists continue to work to determine and to understand the fate of Comet ISON: Theres no doubt that the comet shrank in size considerably as it rounded the sun and theres no doubt that something made it out on the other side to shoot back into space. The question remains as to whether the bright spot seen moving away from the sun was simply debris, or whether a small nucleus of the original ball of ice was still there. Regardless, it is likely that it is now only dust.

SOHO Shows New Images of Comet ISON
November 28, 2013
As Comet ISON heads toward its closest approach to the sun -- known as perihelion -- on Nov. 28, 2013, scientists have been watching through many observatories to see if the comet has already broken up under the intense heat and gravitational forces of the sun. The comet is too far away to discern how many pieces it is in, so instead researchers carefully measure how bright it is, which can be used to infer its current state.

Comet ISON vs. the Solar Storm
November 26, 2013
In 2007, astronomers were amazed when a solar storm hit Comet Encke. NASA STEREO spacecraft watched as a CME (coronal mass ejection) struck the comet head on and ripped off its tail. The same thing could be in store for Comet ISON - only worse.

NASAs Solar Observing Fleet to Watch Comet ISONs Journey Around the Sun
November 25, 2013
It began in the Oort cloud, almost a light year away. It has traveled for over a million years. It has almost reached the star that has pulled it steadily forward for so long. On Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 28, 2013, Comet ISON will finally sling shot around the sun. Here its inward journey through the solar system will end -- either because it will break up due to intense heat and gravity of the sun, or because, still intact, it speeds back away, never to return.

Anticipated STEREO observations of Comet ISON
November 23, 2013
Comet C/2012 S1 was discovered in September 2012 by Russian astronomers Vitali Nevski and Artyom Novichonok using data from the International Scientific Optical Network (ISON). For that reason, it is also known as Comet ISON. This comet is on a close encounter with the Sun on November 28, 2013 (Thanksgiving day in the U.S.), when it will pass at a distance of only 2.7 solar radii from the center of the Sun.

MicroObservatory Catches Comet ISON
November 19, 2013
Hopes are high for Comet ISON, which has the potential to become the most spectacular comet seen in years. ISON is speeding through the inner solar system at about 120,000 miles per hour, on its way to a close approach to the Sun on November 28th. Assuming it survives its close encounter, it could become easily visible to the unaided eye in dawn skies.

New Comet: C/2013 V5 (OUKAIMEDEN)
November 18, 2013
Cbet nr. 3713, issued on 2013, November 15, announces the discovery of an apparently asteroidal object (discovery magnitude ~19.4) by Michel Ory on CCD images obtained with a 0.5-m f/3 reflector at the Oukaimeden Observatory, Marrakech. The object has been found to show cometary appearance by CCD astrometrists elsewhere. The new comet has been designated C/2013 V5 (OUKAIMEDEN).

Comet ISON Update
November 17, 2013
Reports of naked-eye sightings of Comet ISON are coming in from around the world. Experienced observers put the comets magntitude at +5.5 on Nov. 16th. This means it is now fully 10 times brighter than it was only three days ago before the outburst.

Comet ISON: Whats Next?
November 15, 2013
Comet ISON is now inside the orbit of Earth as it plunges headlong toward the sun for a fiery close encounter on Nov. 28th. Although the comet is not yet as bright as many forecasters predicted, the comet is putting on a good show for observatories around the solar system. NASA spacecraft and amateur astronomers alike are snapping crisp pictures of the comets gossamer green atmosphere and filamentary double-tail.