back to article NASA deep space probe sends back video of 'Comet of the Century'

NASA's Deep Impact probe has sent back images of comet Ison as it heads inexorably towards a close fly-past of the Sun later this year. The spacecraft snapped the comet from a whopping 793 million kilometres with its Medium-Resolution Imager over a 36-hour period on 17 and 18 January, allowing NASA to stitch together this time …

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  1. AndrueC Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Swift-Tuttle was okay though. I think it was that one in the early 90s. Visible with the naked eye as having two tails.

    1. Captain Hogwash Silver badge

      Swift-Tuttle was in the early nineties but the one with two tails was Hale-Bopp in 1997. Hale-Bopp was a lot more impressive than Swift-Tuttle to this observer.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Hale-Bopp was so impressive that a bunch wackos decided to remove themselves from the gene pool.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heaven%27s_Gate_%28religious_group%29

        Hopefully there wont be to many idiots with this one.

        1. pewpie
          Happy

          I would have thought that the more that remove themselves the better it is for the future of mankind.

        2. Stoneshop Silver badge

          "Hopefully there wont be to many idiots with this one."

          By all means, let them go ahead and off themselves. It's not like there's an impending shortage of idiots, and there'd be no need for an "endangered species"-like protection status anyway.

          1. Androgynous Crackwhore
            Facepalm

            Re: "Hopefully there wont be to many idiots with this one."

            On 28 November, Ison will pass within 1.8 million kilometres of the Sun, coming to within 64 million kilometres of Earth on 26 December.

            I'm inclined to think that the crackpots will be in raptures.

            All aboard for another pop at the second coming.

        3. Mike Flugennock
          Alien

          re: Hale-Bopp and Heaven's Gate

          Actually, that whole episode turned out to have been a big misunderstanding.

          Apparently, the cult was right about aliens coming to take them off of Earth, but the cult members misheard the message. They thought the aliens were saying "wait for the comet Hale-Bopp", when the actual message was "wait for the comment 'Hail Bob!' "

        4. Gannon (J.) Dick

          Huh ?

          Comets are coming, the idiots are already here ...

        5. Tom 13

          Re: bunch wackos decided to remove themselves from the gene pool.

          I don't mind when idiots remove themselves from the gene pool. It's only when they forcibly take someone else with them that I get upset.

      2. AndrueC Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        > but the one with two tails was Hale-Bopp in 1997

        Ah, my mistake then. I thought I had the year right but obviously not. I'm very good at time but anything more than a month ago gets a bit hazy :)

      3. Pierre Castille
        Pint

        Bennett's Comet - I saw it in March 1970, even better.

        1. AndrueC Silver badge
          Joke

          Hence the saying 'Gordon Bennett, a comet!'

  2. The Bit Wrangler
    Joke

    I just hope...

    They've got Bruce Willis and a couple of tac-nukes on stand-by...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I just hope...

      Bruce Willis is an old man now - I don't think he'd be much good up there.

      Unless you were just looking to get rid of him, in which case I can think of plenty of people to keep him company!

      1. thondwe

        Re: I just hope...

        Not watched "Space Cowboys" then?!

      2. jai

        Re: I just hope...

        Kevin Smith and his pool toy would be far more effective!

      3. An(other) Droid

        Re: I just hope...

        > Bruce Willis is an old man now

        If Bruce is too old, then perhaps Joseph Gordon-Levitt can stand in for him?

        http://tinyurl.com/5u2ydb8

    2. Androgynous Crackwhore
      Alert

      Re: I just hope...

      Shirly Shirn Connery ish the man for the job?

  3. Tom 7 Silver badge
    Coat

    Bring it on ISON

    I've spent about 10 hours trying to work out how to motorise my granddads old Victorian Carver reflector so I can get early tracking views of this one only to discover its cheaper to buy a new one!

    Can I be first to say I'll get me Wainscoat?

    1. frank ly Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Bring it on ISON

      You have a waistcoat made from oak panels?? Very cyberpunk. Does it have turned brass buttons?

  4. jai

    poor FX

    that looks like a scene from the worst of cheap B-Movies from the 40s!!!!

    surely NASA can do better than that, at least some kind of post-processing to clear up the noise on the images.

    Or are they afraid that presenting a too-clean image will incite everyone to claim it's as fake as the moon landings?

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Joe Cooper
      Paris Hilton

      Re: poor FX

      It's maybe a 10 year old digital camera connected to a computer from the 90s, trained on a radically far, small and dim target.

      If you expect it to look any better, it's your ignorance talking.

      Can NASA make it look better? Yes, for barrels and barrels of money, by sending a new, purpose-built probe to the object in question.

      Instead they did the fiscally responsible thing; use an asset they have that still works to get pictures good enough to be useful.

      1. asdf Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: poor FX

        >Instead they did the fiscally responsible thing;

        Only because they are forced too after blowing $100 billion on a space station they can't even get to on their own. A fool tends to be thrifty after he is parted from his money.

        1. Joe Cooper

          Re: poor FX

          "Only because they are forced too after blowing $100 billion on a space station they can't even get to on their own. A fool tends to be thrifty after he is parted from his money."

          The HSF program is mandated from on high (Congress) and explicitly designed to cost a lot without looking too cool.

          Can't piss on them for that.

          1. asdf Silver badge

            Re: poor FX

            I won't argue that Congress totally f__ked up our Space Program like most of the other things they have touched but NASA was pushing for the ISS also and its management didn't put up much of a fight to Congress on anything.

      2. jai

        Re: poor FX

        Can NASA make it look better? Yes, for barrels and barrels of money

        while my original comment was made somewhat tongue in cheek, what i meant was, couldn't they run the video through a filter to remove all the noise and speckles? that wouldn't cost barrels and barrels of money, i'm sure something as simple and free as iMovie can both remove camera shake and despeckle the video image.

        it's like they left all that in, to purposely make it look like it was a poor video sent from the middle of space.

    3. The Indomitable Gall

      Re: poor FX

      Ah, you got us. We actually just used an outtake from George Méliès's Journey to the Moon and we hoped no-one would notice.

      Our sincerest apologies,

      NASA.

  5. pewpie
    Stop

    I'm guessing that silver badge was given out of sheer pity.

  6. John Robson Silver badge

    Cloud cover....

    I'd imagine the comet to be travelling slowly enough that we might get more than a few hours to view it, so clouds should break eventually - and if it's at the full predicted brightness it'll probably show up even in daylight.

    Having said that I'm now doomed.

    1. Tom_

      Re: Cloud cover....

      Closest approach to the sun is in November and apparently it might remain visible until January. If that's so it ought to give even us in the UK a chance to see it.

      Of course nobody knows if it will just get burnt up by the sun yet, so closest approach might be final approach too.

  7. Bob Dunlop

    Asteroid 2012 DA14

    Gonna pass us less then 25,000km away, 9 days and counting.

    Too late to send Bruce up.

  8. Shasta McNasty
    Alien

    Was anybody else...

    ...expecting to see a plastic spaceship "fly" past on a wire while watching that video?

    1. Mike Richards Silver badge

      Re: Was anybody else...

      It really needed a theramin soundtrack.

    2. The Serpent

      Re: Was anybody else...

      HAIL MING!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Was anybody else...

      ... Expecting to see Hello Kitty up there!

  9. romwack
    Alert

    Pun warning

    A bright comet would be the Ison on cake for me this year

    1. Androgynous Crackwhore
      Gimp

      Re: Pun warning

      May I say how much I appreciate and thank you for your most unconventional, yet thoughtful, icon selection.

      <staggers away groaning and whimpering but grateful to have survived>

  10. ISYS
    Coat

    I thought...

    Comet had already gone bust!

    I'll close it quietly behind me.

  11. Robin
    Meh

    Misleading

    Well I watched this 'dirty snowball' video'and I must say, it wasn't what I was expecting.

  12. Annihilator
    Thumb Up

    Can't wait

    "so spectacular that it may achieve a brightness of an apparent magnitude of -16, which would greatly outshine the brightest Moon"

    Looking forward to that, if only so I can point up at it and mutter ominously "that's no moon..."

    If only it were due to happen on May the 4th...

  13. 27escape
    Thumb Up

    Looks like sci-fi tv from the 50's

    Love it :)

  14. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. Steven Roper
      Facepalm

      Jesus!

      That's gotta be your most contrived shoehorning of a Windows 8 diss into a article that has nothing to do with it yet!

  15. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  16. Blubster
    Mushroom

    .....Ison was shaping up to be "potentially spectacular"

    Even more spectacular when it lands in the Pacific.

  17. Mike Flugennock

    "...as we previously put it..."

    "so spectacular that it may achieve a brightness of an apparent magnitude of -16, which would greatly outshine the brightest Moon", as we previously put it...

    ...or, as the Drudge Report will put it:

    IT'S COMING RIGHT FOR US!!!

    ...in 72-point bold, with a still from the movie Deep Impact of the giant asteroid plowing into the Earth.

  18. Mike Flugennock

    Hale-Bopp was pretty awesome...

    ...even though it wasn't nearly as bright as the Moon. Still, I do recall it being as bright as Venus, if not just a hair brighter. It was certainly a great excuse to go sit out on the front stoop and drink a beer after dinner in the evening.

  19. Simon Harris Silver badge
    Boffin

    Names have been changed to protect the innocent...

    It took me ages to find any up-to-date information on Deep Impact until I discovered that once its primary mission was over, they changed the mission name to EPOXI.

    This is the website that is most relevent now: http://epoxi.umd.edu/.

    I don't think the page http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/deepimpact/index.cfm quoted in the article has been updated much since the end of the primary mission.

  20. Martin Budden
    Headmaster

    It is not Comet Ison.

    Comets are named after the astronomers who discovered them, so it should be called Comet Nevski-Novichonok. ISON is the name of the group of observatories which Nevski and Novichonok used to find the comet.

  21. RISC OS

    That's the best the medium quality imager can muster?

    I'm sure I have seen that comet film in old episodes fo doctor who....

    I was expecting something more impressive, like the blue comment in the listing picture :(

    1. Adze
      Coat

      Re: That's the best the medium quality imager can muster?

      It was ahead of its time...

  22. andy k O'Croydon
    Coat

    Nice to see...

    ...they're keeping their ISON it.

  23. Alistair Silver badge
    Coat

    ISON the way peepulz

    I have to agree with the Androgyn on this one, comet coming up to Christmas will have the religious nutters out, I'll swap mine for a tinfoil galero so I can blend in.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Gabbaladictum Bird

    Obviously a snippet of Space Patrol. Also in B & W. But 1963

    -->http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0164289/

  25. MahFL22
    Flame

    Overlords.

    I for one welcome out cometry overlords !

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