back to article Blazing new comet may OUTSHINE THE MOON in 2013

Astroboffins have spotted a new comet that's scheduled to make its earthly appearance in November 2013, blazing through the night skies with a brightness that could well outshine the full Moon. According to the UK's Astronomy Now, the prosaically named comet C/2012 S1 was discovered last Friday by astronomers Vitali Nevski and …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just as well its not due to arrive on 21st December 2012 otherwise I really would be worried.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Little known fact: Mayan priests outsourced their calculations

      Like any empire they called in the consultants to advise on best practices. Having precipitated the Great Collapse (downsizing went a little too far) the arduous business of date calculation was outsourced, and this off-by-one error arose from a poor translation of the original ISO9001-compliant astrology. The k’uhul ajaw apologises for any inconvience that the delayed end of the world may cause for you

      1. Notas Badoff

        Revealed! The "new world" used ones-complement arithmetic...

        Simple, when the archeologists were transcribing the calendrical numbers they didn't convert the negative values correctly. It was part of the "old forgotten knowledge"...

        (I watched and laughed when Uggh University got done with porting the Cobol accounting code and converting the old data tapes and started seeing parallel run figures off by mere pennies on the new computer systems. Much finger-pointing back and forth until bright students (sidelined early as inexperienced and unuseful) asked if they were converting from the old system's ones-complement integers to the new system's twos-complement numbers. How no one higher-up had noticed in the RFC's and granting of new contracts that the number system had changed... was no mystery to those 'sidelined'. So... cut-over delayed some number of months, though not quite a year... Then the real disaster ensued...)

    2. AndrueC Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Yeah. I've read Lucifer's Hammer.

      1. Anonymous Coward


        I wish I knew how to surf, but I do own a small telescope.

        Escape? Not much chance of that.

      2. Peter Murphy

        I, too, have read Lucifer's Hammer.

        It's not really a happy read. After the meteor and and the tidal waves, you have to watch out for the cannibal fundamentalist gangbangers.

        (Jerry Pournelle disliked both tele-evangelists and Black Panthers, so in the novel, he decided to ally them together as the adversaries of the good guys. And because there was a shortage of food in the novel, he added long pig as a sacrament for the new "religion".)

  2. Originone

    800,000 miles from the sun?

    Are they sure this number is right? Obviously it could be but it seems rather close in astronomical terms, and if it does get this close surely it will have ablated all it has to ablate long before reaching perihelion?

    1. thejackle

      Re: 800,000 miles from the sun?

      It is very close indeed, considering Mercury barely gets with 30 million miles at its closest, but Lovejoy actually passed through the Sun's corona last year - approaching with 88,000 miles. Now that's toasty.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A white point star?

    Does anyone know the date in November 2013? Wouldn't be the 23rd, would it?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Article says Nov. 28 2013. That's Thanksgiving Day here, so if it turns out as bright as all that I'm sure it'll be known as the Thanksgiving Day Comet in the US.

      I'm not getting my hopes up, as I'm just old enough to remember being a little kid when Kohoutek came by and being bitterly disappointed when the hype turned out to be just that.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Look at meeeee...

    ",...blame those optimistic scientists, ..."

    They remind one of testosterone-fueled teenagers who can predict epic failure by preceding an action with the words, "Hey guys, watch this!"

    I hope it's spectacular but won't shed a tear if it's not.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But that's going to be a problem, won''t it attract young coppers who think it's suspicious? ;)

  6. Anonymous Coward

    "Or not."

    Depressingly predictable outcome for such phenomena, and not for the shininess,

    I think the Met office ought to take note of the date and plug into their models the near certainty of blanket clouds over the UK.

    1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson

      Re: "Or not."

      Same here in the Netherlands.

      Hale-Bopp and Hyakutake were pretty good though. And anyway, a comet like this would be visible for quite a long time. Time to get that astronomized DSLR ready.

  7. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

    Is it me?

    Or has anyone else noticed that lunar craters tend to be perfectly hemispherical?

    1. FartingHippo
      Thumb Up

      Re: Is it me?

      Assuming you mean "round when viewed from above", as opposed to the tear-shaped crater you'd expect from an oblique impact, then I'd very much like to know the answer. It's not as if there's any atmosphere to aggressively remove or reduce the lateral velocity vector.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Is it me?

        See AndrueC's comment the book

        1. AndrueC Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: Is it me?

          Yeah there's a 'scene' in that where Tim says he's been to NASA and they explained the shape of craters if I remember correctly. It's been years since I read it. There's also a scene where the sea wipes out London. Still - it is really an optimistic novel :)

          1. VinceH

            Re: Is it me?

            I still have a copy somewhere. I might give it another read in the run up to this comet's appearance (or not-much-of-an-appearance as the case may be).

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Is it me?

      Yep, check Plato...

      Thats a round crater....

    3. Mike Flugennock

      Re: Is it me?

      Or has anyone else noticed that lunar craters tend to be perfectly hemispherical?

      Wellll-llll... yes, and no. It depends on the angle of attack of the incoming impactors. Ones that come more or less straight in produce round, hemispherical craters, but then, if you look at enough detailed fotos of the Moon, you can see oblong gouge-shaped impacts from where objects sort of augured in at a more shallow angle.

      Next time you're out after a heavy rainfall, find a thick mud puddle and flip some stones into it, to get an idea.

  8. Roger Kynaston Silver badge

    Shirly we need a pluto rant by now

    Pluto is a planet. I won't try for FOTW though

    1. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: Shirly we need a pluto rant by now

      Ooooooohhhhhh no it isn't......

      1. Roger Kynaston Silver badge

        Re:Re: Shirly we need a pluto rant by now

        Oooohhh yes it is!!

        More beer as I am on leave tomorrow.

        1. Mike Manship

          Re: Re:Shirly we need a pluto rant by now

          It's a dwarf planet.

          Get over it.

          1. Lee Dowling

            Re: Re:Shirly we need a pluto rant by now

            Dimensionally-challenged, if you please.

          2. VinceH

            Re: Re:Shirly we need a pluto rant by now

            "It's a dwarf planet."

            Look, just because its inhabitants are really, really small, there is no need to be insulting about it!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Shirly we need a pluto rant by now

      Why are we ranting about Pluto when it's NEPTUNE that is NOT A FUCKING PLANET ACCORDING TO THE NEW RULES. Yep that's right: Neptune hasn't cleared its orbit of other stuff because Pluto's orbit is still crossing Neptune's orbit, therefore Neptune cannot be a planet. It doesn't matter about the 3:2 resonance preventing collision: the orbits do cross which means the orbits have not been cleared. Those stupid cretins at IAU really bollocksed that one up, didn't they! Fuckwits.

  9. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Just another streetlight

    Predicting the "spectacular-lessness" of comets, meteor showers, eclipses, transits (of the non-Ford variety) and planetary conjunctions is prone to hype. Not so much because of what the astronomers, in their enthusiasm, say but in the way the inexperienced media go completely doolally when they have something extra-terrestrial to report.

    So yes, hopefully this comet will be bright. Hopefully if won't be obscured by clouds for months on end. Hopefully it won't be washed out by the full moon or by being too close to the sun in the sky. However, for the vast majority of people even the moon at its brightest has to compete with thousands of streetlights - all pouring wasted light into our skies and turning what should be a spectacular night-time view into a dull orange glow.

    Luckily the Normans, in their conquest, didn't have to worry about such things or their tapestry wouldn't have featured a comet at all.

  10. Spoonsinger

    No doubt everyone will being going outside to have a look.

    So note to self.

    Stock up on canned goods, leave note out for milkman and polish shotgun for the next days festivities.

    1. Graham Marsden

      Re: No doubt everyone will being going outside to have a look.

      ... And make sure you've got rid of any large, walking plants...!

  11. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    Oh, noes!

    First, the Earth has broke in half and now a comet is coming! 8-()

  12. Crisp

    Those crazy Astroboffins!

    What will they discover next?

  13. AlanB

    Why impact craters are round

    Because the crater is formed when the impacting body vaporises.

  14. David Cantrell

    28th of November? My birthday! It's a sign from the LORD that I am ... something or other!

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "We may scoff at Harold's fear of Halley's Comet"

    If my sketchy memory of primary school history lessons holds true, then i seem to recall the battle of Hastings not turning out too great for Harold - so he was kinda right to be worried.

    1. rjmx

      Re: "We may scoff at Harold's fear of Halley's Comet"

      You mean "hAROLD" (well, that's what the tapestry says).

      Looks like somebody had caps lock on when they made it.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "We may scoff at Harold's fear of Halley's Comet"

      Part of Harold's problem may have been that they'd all just marched down from Stamford Bridge, possibly from playing Chelsea?

  16. andy k O'Croydon
    Thumb Up

    Cheers for the link

    A nice reminder of some Medieval history i'd forgotten about since leaving school.

  17. Tim Parker


    All this talk reminds me of this...

  18. alcesmalchis

    Have they checked for 100 mile long spaceships nearby?

    Last thing we need is a naked space vampire zombie apocalypse!

    1. David Haig

      Re: Have they checked for 100 mile long spaceships nearby?

      Nothing wrong with naked space vampires of the (insert gender here) kind

  19. Dennis Wilson


    NASA put in place the Near-Earth Object Program Office.. They then spent two years and millions setting up the Sentry automatic impact monitoring system to watch for earth bound objects. Then along comes two pensioners from russia and find the stupid thing.

  20. Mage Silver badge


    Watch out for strange plants around the same time. XKCD can tell us how many lasers it's equivalent to.

    Mines the one with really dark sunglasses in the pocket.

  21. Denarius Silver badge

    probably be dim

    orbit suggests an ancestral connection to Great Comet of 1860 ITIRC, so it may have been toasted in far past.

    It is the ones in polar orbits around Sun that might be potentially disastrous. Biggest crater on Vesta, Moon and Mars is where ? South poles.

    It is speculated that around 2040 there will be another group of sun diving comets to entertain the grandkids, so you young whippersnappers have something to look forward to.

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