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Join the Fleet’s Space Geek Team TUESDAY 5:30AM to View What Could Be the “Comet of the Century”: COMET ISON

As the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center Hosts COFFEE & COMET, an Early Morning Comet-Viewing Party on Tuesday, November 26, at 5:30AM!

November 25, 2013

Comet ISON

Comet ISON
Comet ISON - Galaxies - Hubble

Comet ISON - Galaxies - Hubble
Comet ISON - Hubble

Comet ISON - Hubble
Comet ISON - Hubble1

Comet ISON - Hubble1
ISON MRO montage

ISON MRO montage
Parallax in Hubble images of Comet ISON

Parallax in Hubble images of Comet ISON




San Diego, CA, November 20, 2013 – The Reuben H. Fleet Science Center will host COFFEE & COMET, a very early morning viewing party for Comet ISON on Tuesday, November 26, at 5:30AM! The Space Geek Team will fling open the Ticketing Rotunda and be ready to track the passing of ISON over Balboa Park! Galileo’s Café will be open—you can pre-order a light breakfast, or purchase coffee and munchies that morning. Join us to get all the breaking news about Comet ISON as it streaks through the sky over San Diego and is visible to us (weather and marine layer permitting, of course!). It is expected to be visible from 5:45AM through sunrise at 6:30AM on this date.


Our Space Geek Team will share their knowledge of comets in general and ISON specifically, and they’ll help us locate it in the sky. They include Dr. Lisa Will, Fleet Astronomer; John Young, Planetarium Producer; Jason Hammond, Education Manager of School Programs; and Mary Anderson, Fleet sky photographer. Because we have no way of guaranteeing that ISON will make it, there will not be a charge to join us!


We strongly recommend that attendees bring binoculars!


To Register for the Event (please): http://www.rhfleet.org/events/coffee-comets

To pre-order Breakfast: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/coffee-comets-celebrating-comet-ison-tickets-8283982615

(619) 238-1233       


Great comets from humble origins and eyes on ISON—some background information:

•          Comets can be one of the most amazing sights in the heavens, with naked-eye bright comas and tails stretching across half the sky. The most spectacular comet appearances are called "great" comets, but such an occurrence is infrequent enough that it is also nicknamed a "comet of the century." Space watchers have high hopes that ISON will make it to that status!

•          It is set to be the most observed comet by NASA ever, being watched by 16 space-based assets, including astronauts aboard the International Space Station. Mercury’s MESSENGER is watching it now.

•          ISON is a pristine comet from the Oort Cloud, and this is its first time visiting our solar system.

•          The comet is a sungrazer (like Comet Lovejoy). It will fly through the atmosphere of the sun, and it may not survive its closest approach on November 28, 2013 (two days later).

•          Another comet from the Oort Cloud will be visiting next year, so scientists will be comparing both to see how comets from this icy reservoir of debris beyond our solar system differ from other comets.

•          In preparation for the Thanksgiving Day perihelion passage of Comet ISON, along with its great possibilities, it's a proper time to examine the humble origins, from the most rural parts of the solar system, of these briefly blazing celestial sights. 

•          Comet ISON passed by Mercury on November 19 (following Comet Encke November 18, a rare double flyby), is getting brighter in the sky and recently became visible to the naked eye!

•          Wunderground weather has it clear from Sunday through Tuesday night—so we may be in good shape for naked eye/binocular visibility of Comet ISON on Tuesday morning!

 VISUALS:  Keep an eye on NASA.gov – they have a ton of ISON images and videos and are updating constantly with photos people send in!

A great link – this one to our former Space Geek Team member/Planetary Scientist Bonnie Meinke. She now works at the Space Telescope Science institute, and is featured on a show @ ISON that aired last night on PBS and will show on NatGeoTV on 11/24. She talks about Hubble Space Telescope observations of Comet ISON and how comets form and evolve.

Bonnie is in the trailer @1:48 in  http://natgeotv.com/uk/comet-of-the-century/videos/discovering-comet-ison  (different name in the UK)

It's called Comet Encounter in most US PBS markets (including San Diego); http://www.pbs.org/program/comet-encounter/

Videos to explain it:





If you want to know where to locate it in the sky or learn more about Comet ISON, here are some useful resources:

http://www.isoncampaign.org/: A site with a lot of useful technical information.

http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/smallworlds/cometison.cfm: NASA's Comet ISON Toolkit

http://www.universetoday.com/104818/: Universe Today's ISON Observing Guide

http://www.astronomy.com/magazine/events/comet-ison: Astronomy Magazine's coverage

http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/objects/comets/Comet-ISON-Updates-193909261.html: updates

http://spaceweathergallery.com/index.php?title=ison: SpaceWeather's image gallery


While ISON itself is not tweeting, others are tweeting about ISON. On Twitter, follow:

@SungrazerComets                             @ISONUpdates


There’s an app for that: http://news.yahoo.com/see-comet-ison-app-points-way-195608924.html


The Reuben H. Fleet Science Center is located at 1875 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101.  The Fleet’s normal hours are Monday–Thursday 10AM–5PM; Friday, Saturday and Sunday 10AM–6PM. For information on tickets and show times, call (619) 238-1233 or visit our website at http://www.rhfleet.org/. This Coffee & Comet event is a public event, and will be FREE to all comers. Breakfast combo choices include Cosmic Crumb Cake with Coffee. Martian Muffin with Juice, and Galactic Bagel with Coffee.  To Register for the event (please): http://www.rhfleet.org/events/coffee-comets. To pre-order breakfast: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/coffee-comets-celebrating-comet-ison-tickets-8283982615For more information, check our website at http://www.rhfleet.org/.   We strongly recommend that attendees bring binoculars!



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Members of the Space Geek Team are available for advance interviews now, in-studios on Monday morning—and will be out in force on Tuesday morning to once again share their space knowledge with the greater San Diego community—and YOU!


Space Geek Team Bios

Dr. Lisa Will: Fleet Resident Astronomer. Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy, Department of Physical Sciences at San Diego City College since 2007. Residential Faculty, Physical Sciences Department, Mesa Community College, Mesa, AZ 2000–2007. Visiting Faculty, Department of Physics & School of Earth and Space Exploration, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 2000–2008. Ph.D. in Physics (Arizona State University, 2000); B.S. in Astrophysics (University of California, Los Angeles, 1993).


John Young: Fleet Planetarium Producer/ Audio Visual Technical Specialist. A Grossmont HS and Cuyamaca College grad, he specializes in audio and visual system design, operation and original content creation. John worked on the upgrade to Fulldome video at the Heikoff Giant Dome Theater (4 Sony SRX T 420 projectors in the central pit), and the recent installation of a SkySkan system. John has a long history of creating unique content, including astronomy and entertainment films and shorts. His Fall Sky Show examines the green flash and constellations visible in the fall season, playing with Cosmic Collisions. John screens unique and challenging footage on our giant dome screen for local university students, inspiring great digital shorts as class projects. Next up: the Winter Sky Show and a daily live planetarium show. He is Secretary of the Pacific Planetarium Association.


Jason Hammond, Education Manager of School Programs, is an experienced Museum Educator with an extensive background in science education, with several years each at LA Natural History Museum and Griffith Observatory.  Jason also has experience as a manager in a retail setting and received his Bachelor of Science in Developmental Psychology. He spent a year working for the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma, and also volunteered for Mount Wilson Observatory cataloging stars.  In his free time, Jason is a musician and aspiring writer.


Mary Anderson: Fleet Console Operator, Sky Photographer. A native San Diegan and astronomy fan since reading “The First Book of Astronomy” in 3rd grade. She applied at the Fleet in 1972 to work at a planetarium, started as usher Opening Day 3/10/73; advanced to console/planetarium show production staff by December. Mary graduated from SDSU in 1977 and went into banking/real estate but couldn’t bear to leave the Fleet so stayed on part time—40+ years now! Solar Eclipse chaser—veteran of 10, with 30+min under totality. Next one is in Faroe Islands on 3/20/15, with >2min totality. Interest piqued in photography while creating slides for planetarium, natural progression with better cameras—current passion is night sky photography shared with her scientist husband.



Celebrate the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center’s 40th Anniversary Year!

Forty years ago, a spark ignited our imaginations! March 9, 2013, kicked off a year-long celebration of the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center and its 40 years of success in bringing hands-on science to our San Diego community. In 1973, the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center opened its doors and brought interactive exhibits and the world’s first IMAX® Dome Theater to San Diego. Today, the Fleet inspires minds and connects individuals to science and technology through more than 100 “do touch” exhibits for all ages and amazing IMAX films and planetarium shows in the recently renovated Heikoff Giant Dome Theater. Enjoy our year-long celebration, featuring a blockbuster exhibition, incredible events and dynamic educational experiences.


About the Fleet Science Center:

The Fleet Science Center connects people of all ages to the possibilities and power of science to create a better future. At the science center, you can explore and investigate more than 100 interactive exhibits that pique your curiosity and become immersed in an IMAX film adventure that shows the wonders of the planet--and beyond--in the Eugene Heikoff and Marilyn Jacobs Heikoff Giant Dome Theater. For young science enthusiasts, the Fleet offers science workshops both at the Fleet and at schools throughout San Diego County. For adults, we offer events like Suds & Science and Two Scientists Walk Into a Bar™ at locations all over San Diego. We support communities by leveraging science resources to meet local needs. Teachers are encouraged to join our Teacher Partner Program and take advantage of our professional development opportunities. Additionally, at the Fleet Science Center, visitors will find unique educational toys and games, books, IMAX DVDs and more in the North Star Science Store, and pizzas, sandwiches, salads and healthy treats in our Craveology cafe. Located in Balboa Park, at 1875 El Prado, two blocks south of the San Diego Zoo on Park Blvd., the Fleet is San Diego's science center. Science starts here and opens a world of possibility. For information regarding current admission prices, visit our website at fleetscience.org.
About Balboa Park:
Located near downtown San Diego, Balboa Park is the largest urbancultural park in the United States. First established by the City of San Diego in 1868, it is also one of the oldest city parks in the nation and is the most visited single destination in San Diego. Its 1,200 acres include 17 museums, many gardens and attractions, the San Diego Zoo, miles of hiking trails, and multiple athletic complexes to explore and discover. For more information, visit balboapark.org.

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