Wednesday, November 27, 2013

SDO's Comet ISON Perihelion Event Website

Comet ISON  November 15, 2013. Credit and copyright: Damian Peach
From the SDOisGo Blog

Tomorrow Thursday, November 28, SDO will watch Comet C/2012 S1 (ISON) fly by the Sun at 1844 UT (1:44 pm ET). We have designed a website to share the SDO images with the public. Here are some tips on the SDO Comet ISON Perihelion Page. The top bar has a couple of links and drop-down menus. You can view a movie which shows the different areas SDO will point (off-pointing- when SDO is not pointing directly at the sun) and explore the orbits of Comets ISON and Lovejoy (from 2011, not the current one). The 3-D interactive works with many browsers (but not Safari). It allows you to examine two sungrazing comet orbits and see the views of different satellites. Under resources are pointers to websites that discuss Comet ISON.

Three views for the perihelion of Comet ISON The home page will have images from four of the AIA wavelengths during each the views (off points), Approach, Perihelion, and Departure. These wavelengths were chosen because in December 2011, when Comet Lovejoy passed perihelion, it was very bright in these wavelengths, and we believe they are the best choice for Comet ISON. We will not see a normal comet tail. The glowing material is forced to move along the Sun's magnetic field. It will look like a cloud moving along and away from the orbit of the comet. You can watch for Comet ISON using either the kiosk mode or mp4 movies. If you select "View kiosk" a new page will open and a series of images at that wavelength will be shown. As data becomes available your kiosk display will automatically add the new images. At the end of each 1-hour phase you will be looking at about 300 images. The movie will flip through all of the data and you can watch for the comet to appear. You can run/pause the display, step through the frames, and force an update. If you pause the display you can use the slider to flip back and forth in the images. New images are available in sets of 5 every minute. If you select "Download mp4" an mp4 movie that has all of the images currently available will be sent to your machine and you can use the movie controls on your webpage to view the images. You have to re-load the mp4 every 5 minutes to get the latest data. The mp4 movies will only be updated every 5 minutes! Join SDO and watch for Comet ISON on November 28 or join our Google+ hangout from 1:00pm-3:30 pm EST (18:00UT - 20:30UT)! A great way to spend a few hours of the American Thanksgiving Day.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Welcome to November- Satellite Month

As we all wait for the perihelion of the sun-grazing Comet ISON at the end of the month we look the the pre-dawn and post-sunset night sky for a view of the many satellites that zip across the night sky.  Please check out the November Page on satellites for tips for finding Satellites in the Night Sky. Please join the SDO team on November 28th for the perihelion of Comet ISON.  You can follow along @NASA_SDO on Twitter or on the SDO Comet ISON page . We will also be hosting a Google+ Hangout on November 28th - more on that soon.

 From the SDOisGO Blog about Comet ISON.
Now that November has arrived it's time to get ready for Comet C/2012 S1 (ISON). On November 28 (yes, Thanksgiving Day) at 1:45 pm ET, Comet ISON will fly only 730,000 miles above the surface of the Sun. Even though it is moving as fast as 375 km/s (840,000 mph), the Sun will heat Comet ISON, causing it to sublimate and leave a lot of water and grit behind. Comet ISON is about 2 km across, much bigger than Comet Lovejoy in December 2011, and it will leave a lot of itself behind.

Once the stuff sublimates we will watch for it to light up the corona in the AIA bandpasses. We saw Comet Lovejoy in 7 of the 10 bandpasses in December 2011. This time we will point SDO toward three different places where the comet is predicted to be. One will be centered about the time of perihelion for a half hour on each side of perihelion. The other two will point toward the paths the comet will use to approach and leave the Sun and take data for an hour at each place. The offpoints are much larger than the one we did for Comet Lovejoy in 2011. We expect that the comet debris will look a lot smoother for Comet ISON because the magnetic field that far from the surface is also smoother.
Hubble Image From NASA Solar System Exploration
The near-realtime SDO images will be available as self-updating movies at a dedicated website that is being tested and will soon be ready. Until then, there is an ISON campaign website with a lot of good pictures and information about Comet ISON, written by people who study comets. You can also look at the Know Your Night Sky blog for observing hints, especially after perihelion as Comet ISON climbs away from the Sun towards the North Star.

During November we will talk about how much stuff we should see coming off Comet ISON, why the signatures of a sungrazing comet could be like how supernovae work, and how a belt going around two pulleys can help us to understand sungrazing comets.
Make November a month for Sun and comet watching!