Miscellaneous updates

I'm busy with several things right now so don't have time for a long blog post, but just wanted to give a brief update on what's going on with the CIOC right now.

First, this CIOC website has been active for nearly two weeks now, and I'm delighted to say we've already had a lot of traffic and a lot of very positive feedback, for which we are tremendously grateful! We are posting a new "Image of the Week" every Monday (this week, "Swift Science"), and we have a couple of blog posts available. Most recently, CIOC Team member Matthew Knight put up a fascinating post about the uniqueness of Comet ISON. I thought that was a particularly interesting article that really helped convey why we are so uncertain about the future behavior of Comet ISON. We know ISON is a Sungrazer, and looking at Comet Lovejoy from a couple of years ago, we know that this class of comet can do amazing things. Admittedly Lovejoy was twice as close to the Sun as ISON will be, but it was also a much smaller comet than ISON is. On top of that, ISON is fresh from the freezer (also known as the Oort Cloud), which means it has never been exposed to the intense gravitational stresses and solar radiation that it's going to be experiencing in the coming months. So the Sungrazer + Fresh Comet combo is one we have no record of, and personally I think this makes it particularly questionable to try and compare ISON to previous comets. Indeed I've seen a brightness plot that puts ISON on the same axes as Hale-Bopp and a couple of other equally dissimilar comets... Is that really a fair comparison? Hard to say, though of course we have to start somewhere, and one of the basics of scientific research is that you make a prediction based on past results, and see how good your prediction was. Either way, we'll find out in November or December.

In terms of what the CIOC Team are doing, right now and couple of them are puzzling over the results they obtained from using the Spitzer Space Telescope to observe Comet ISON in late June. I'm told the results are extremely interesting, and from what few specifics they've told me, I certainly agree! But they're still double and triple-checking their numbers and writing up the results. I'm reliably informed that we should hopefully see something released next week. You can definitely count on us to post results on this website, so keep checking back!

Otherwise, we are all preparing for the CIOC Comet ISON Observer's Workshop, which is going to be held at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab in Laurel, Maryland, on August 1st and 2nd. A draft agenda is available on that site, and you'll note that Yours Truly is going to be talking briefly about our planned STEREO and SOHO operations and observations for ISON on the morning of the first day. I then get to moderate the next session of talks, which at scientific conferences like this is very much akin to herding cats, and particularly high-risk as it's the session before lunch when scientists get increasingly hungry and irritable! Nonetheless, I'll do my best to maintain law and order, and I'm sure the workshop as a whole will be extremely valuable and quite fascinating! It's still not entirely clear to me whether we will have a Webex/call-in option available for the meeting, but I intend to find that out and will post it on the "Workshop" page on this site when I get that info. I will certainly be Tweeting lots of info from the Workshop, however, and you'll be able to keep up with those by following @SungrazerComets on Twitter. And for those of you that would like to attend in person, there's still space and there is no registration fee. We just ask that non-US citizens fill the registration form ASAP because there's a little extra information needed from you.

Keep up-to-date on the latest ISON and sungrazing comet news via my @SungrazerComets Twitter feed. All opinions stated on there, and in my blog posts, are my own.