An India-wide campaign on the Comet’s trail to
promote scientific temperamong citizens,
to take science-learning by doing to every school
& to provide resources to everyone
to watch the sky and enjoy the universe!

Eyes on ISON Campaign, India

Latest News about comet ISON

Why all the excitement about Comet ISON?

Comets are small icy bodies in the solar system which develop a visible atmosphere and tails when passing close to the Sun. This is because the heat from the Sun sublimates the comet, i.e, converts the solid ice into gas.

ISON, a comet discovered in September 2012, has generated a lot of excitement primarily because this is the first time we are seeing a sun-grazing comet that is also pristine!

Comet ISON has faded but try to spot Comet Lovejoy!

More about the Eyes on ISON Campaign

Comet ISON has excited a huge number of scientists and amateur astronomers all around the planet, with hundreds of telescopes tracking it. Whether it would survive its perihelion passage was uncertain all along, but nevertheless it was seen as an exciting opportunity to involve school-going children and the public of India on a massive scale to track the comet and share in the world-wide excitement.

To this end, a consortium of astrophysicists, amateur astronomers, science activists and artist-designers have come together to catalyse an India-wide mass campaign on the comet’s trail. The activities of the campaign, spanning a period from October to February and beyond, are aimed at sharing the excitement of science with the public, having school children learn science by doing and discovering, and furthering public ownership of science.

The campaign is conducting a country-wide cascading set of training workshops, and working towards incorporating “learning science by doing” into the school curriculum, in the spirit of the Right To Education Act 2009.

The multi-lingual resource material on this website is freely downloadable. An acknowledgement to “Eyes on ISON Campaign, India” will be deeply appreciated.

More about Comet ISON

Comet ISON was a large Sun-grazing comet whose closest passage to the Sun occurred on November 29, 2013, 04:30 IST.

Just before its close encounter with the Sun, it had been estimated to have a nucleus of about 2km in size, and a tail of almost 3 million kilometres. At its closest encounter, it passed within about a million kilometres from the Sun's surface. Compare this with the diameter of the Sun, which itself is only 1.4 million kilometres in size !

The orbit of Comet ISON is inclined by over 60 degrees to the plane of the solar system in which the planets orbit the Sun. It is entered our neighbourhood for the first time and is believed to have originated at the very edge of our solar system, one light-year away - in what is known as the Oort's Cloud. This is 63000 times as far away from the Sun, as the Earth-Sun distance !

While the path of the comet could be predicted exactly, whether or not its nucleus would survive the heat and the disruptive tidal force near the Sun could not be predicted with any certainty because of the large number of unknown factors affecting it. Beautiful views of the Comet during its close encounter were seen by space telescopes meant to study the Sun. The Comet was seen to emerge from perihelion with a much depleted nucleus and a much-widened tail. Its nucleus did disrupt, and it is now a cloud of debris that is fast moving away from the Sun.

Awesome videos can be seen on Emily Lakdawala's blog at:

Thus it is very unlikely that the Comet will be visible even to binoculars in the night skies of December.

The closest that the remnants of Comet ISON will come to earth is a whopping 64 million kilometres on the 26th December, 2013. There is obviously no danger of any kind to earth or its inhabitants.

Comet ISON: Its Name

ISON stands for International Scientific Optical Network, a group of observatories in ten countries who have organized to detect, monitor, and track objects in the inner solar system. ISON is managed by the Keldysh Institute of Applied Mathematics, part of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Images of Comet ISON taken by amateur and professional astronomers in India

8 Nov 2013, from VBO 1.3m 12 Nov 2013, from Ajay Talwar 16 Nov 2013, from Nilesh Desai