briefing: coming comets

we’re super excited to start the new year with the first in a series of ‘briefings’ – which we’ll be publishing when there’s something big going on we think more people should know about

the first covers the approach of comets ISON and Pan-STARRS, which could make 2013 the best year for astronomy in living memory. we look at the prospects for seeing a comet in the daytime and catch up with the Hampstead Observatory’s Doug Daniels, who you may remember fondly from our rooftop Science Fair™ astronomy session back in 2010

printed on 100% recycled paper on our RISO printer, each double-sided A4 briefing is matched up to an online gallery with colour, animated and credited versions of each image

download as PDF

ISON position

the position of the comet C/2012 S1 (ISON) at the time of best visibility in the northern hemisphere: December 11, 2013. for dynamic plotting, visit the JPL Small-Body Database. credit: NASA/JPL

Pan-STARRS scanning

the Pan-STARRS1 telescope mapping the sky. credit: PS1 Science Consortium


Comet McNaught

comet C/2006 P1 (McNaught) over Villa Alemana, Chile. credit: Ruben Garcia A.

discovery sequence of C/2011 L4

discovery sequence for Comet Pan-STARRS (C/2011 L4), showing the 19th-magnitude object’s motion against background stars from 9:20 to 10:23 Universal Time on June 6, 2011. credit: PS1 Science Consortium


discovery image of C/2011 L4

discovery image of Comet C/2011 L4 (PANSTARRS) – the comet is shown by the red arrow

discovery image of C/2011 L4

discovery image of Comet C/2011 L4 (PANSTARRS) – the comet is shown by the red arrow. credit: Pan-STARRS

Comet C/2012 S1 (ISON)

Comet C/2012 S1 (ISON) imaged by Rolando Ligustri on September 25, 2012 from New Mexico with system IT11 of

Pan-STARRS sequence

Comet C/2011 L4 (Pan-STARRS) imaged by the FRAM telescope

Comet ISON

Comet C/2012 S1 (ISON) appears as a faint blob in this image taken at the Remote Astronomical Society Observatory near Mayhill, New Mexico. credit: E. Guido, G. Sostero, and N. Howes


Comet ISON next to Lecar

Erik Bryssinck‘s observations show the movement of Comet C/2012 S1 (ISON), on the right side you can see the minor planet Lecar (4417)


activity of comet C/2011 L4 (Panstarrs)


Hubble Space Telescope Advanced Camera for Surveys image of Comet 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 3 fragment B on April 18, 19 and 20 2006. credit: NASA, ESA, H. Weaver (APL/JHU), M. Mutchler and Z. Levay (STScI). Animation from three images by Vesta.