Yes, it’s true that comet ISON did not withstand perihelion to become the ‘comet of the century.’ There was no glorious reappearance from behind the Sun, and our local horizons were not graced by a splendid long tail. Nonetheless, ISON’s solar-bound passage was a captivating journey, and it did provide unprecedented opportunities. Much of the world turned their eyes skyward for the first time ever; twelve different spacecraft managed observations and images; and professional researchers formally collaborated with amateur astronomers, in a global campaign to learn more about a pristine Oort Cloud comet. In fact, NASA tells us that “comet ISON was the subject of the most coordinated observing campaign in history.”
With the pro-am partnership in mind, NASA created the Comet ISON Observing Campaign, which encouraged amateur astronomers to share their observations with cometary experts. The amateur sector of this pro-am campaign was housed in the CIOC_ISON Facebook group and the Amateur Observers Program, both of which included participants from around the world and both of which succeeded in collecting an extraordinary amount of data for ongoing research.
In the coming weeks, Astronomy.FM’s own Under British Skies team will present a special program featuring many of the participants, both amateur and professional, of NASA’s Comet ISON Observing Campaign. They’ll discuss Comet ISON’s journey through the inner solar system, the consequences of its encounter with the Sun, and the evidence of post-perihelion remnants. We’ll also hear about the pro-am collaboration: how valuable was the amateur data, what does it mean for future partnerships, and what have the amateurs gained from their involvement?
To whet your appetite for the upcoming special, we present you with an exciting collection of images, acquired by the CIOC_ISON Facebook group and beautifully compiled by group member Chris Pruzenski. Enjoy! And watch this page for dates and times of USB’s CIOC program!