Friday, November 29, 2013

Comet ISON plays Icarus... and wins

Like I've tried to tell so many people who don't get Reddit, it's pretty useless if you don't sign up for it and subscribe to only the subs you like. Indeed, the first thing I saw on my personalized feed this morning was this post. Comet ISON, for a short time last night, was thought to have been burned up by the sun. 

gif courtesy bsteinfeld, compiled from NASA thumbnails

As you can see, at least some of the comet made it.

It made me wonder just how fast this sucker's moving. Phil Plait calculates it's moving 1500 times faster than a commercial jet or 0.1% the speed of light. He originally calculated it was moving twice that speed, but posted a correction with the following message:
"making mistakes are a part of life. The best thing to do is own up to them… and then use them as an excuse to talk about physics. Yeah, I think that’s for the best."
Words to live by. See this website for more on the comet's predicted trajectory.

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