Comet Watch 2013 -
Comets, primarily composed of ice and dust, are typically brightest and most active around the time they are closest to the sun when solar heating causes the ice to vaporize releasing dust which heats to form the long classic comet tail.
Comet C20012 (ISON) is on a very predictable path through space but how bright this comet will become is still a mystery. ISON will be passing by Mars around the beginning of October and then will just graze the sun (passing within 1.1 million miles of the sun's surface) around Thanksgiving which may give us a clue of what magnitude is in store for this comet. If ISON survives its near brush with the sun, it will round the sun and re-emerge in December.
ISON is not considered an extremely big comet, estimated at no larger than a two kilometer radius, but comet brightness is not synonymous with size. Brightness is frequently associated with the composition of the dusts and density of the gases that make up the comet and the effect solar winds and radiation have on these dusts and gases. Regardless of magnitude it appears that the best time to get a glimpse of this object will be in the eastern sky in the early morning hours, just prior to sunrise.
Comet Viewing/Astrophotography Nights
With ISON's highly anticipated approach this fall, the Observatory will be hosting special dusk 'til dawn Comet Viewing/Astrophotography Nights on the following Saturdays: October 5, November 2, and December 7.
The Observatory will be open from 7 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. on these special viewing dates.
Comet viewing nights are weather dependent and will not be held on nights with more than 30% cloud cover. Program fee is $2 per person or $5 per family. You may call the Observatory at 517-645-6666 during public viewing hours to check sky conditions or visit the Fox Park Observatory Facebook page for Comet/Public Viewing updates.
Solar Viewing Exploration
Come out to Observatory on the following Sundays—October 13, November 10, and December 15 from 1 to 3 p.m. to view our closet star - the Sun.
Participants will use a solar scope and filters to safely view the Sun's surface, spying spots and solar flares. Program fee is $2 per person or $5 per family.
Bring your camera and work with experienced photographers to capture photos of our beautiful night sky on the Saturday, September 28, from 7 to 11 p.m. Focus will be on Advanced Deep Sky Photography.
If cloud cover does not permit sky viewing, a theme
based work session/PowerPoint presentation will be held instead. Program fee is $5 per person.
For more information and program registration, please e-mail Jason Blaschka at email@example.com.
Public Viewing Nights
September 14 and 21
8 pm—11 pm
Fall Milky Way and the Moon
October 12, 19, and 26
7 pm—11 pm
Check out Uranus, Neptune, and Venus.
November 9 and 23
7 pm—11 pm
View Jupiter, the Leonids Shower, and the Autumn Milky Way—start dressing warm!
7 pm—11 pm
Featuring the Geminids Shower, Jupiter, and the Autumn/Winter skies.
Public observation nights will not be held on nights with more than 30% cloud cover. Program fee is $2 per person or $5 per family. You may call the Observatory at 517-645-6666 during public viewing hours to check sky conditions or visit the Observatory's Facebook page - Fox Park Observatory - for public viewing updates.