There is a new and very bright comet out there.  Which of course means that it is the end of the world as we know it… maybe.  Maybe not.  In any event, it should be bright! And we might need either Bruce Willis, or Robert Duval, or both!

From NatGeo:

New Comet Discovered—May Become “One of Brightest in History”
Next year comet 2012 S1 might outshine the moon.

Andrew Fazekas

for National Geographic News

Published September 27, 2012

If astronomers’ early predictions hold true, the holidays next year may hold a glowing gift for stargazers—a superbright comet, just discovered streaking near Saturn.

Even with powerful telescopes, comet 2012 S1 (ISON) is now just a faint glow in the constellation Cancer. But the ball of ice and rocks might become visible to the naked eye for a few months in late 2013 and early 2014—perhaps outshining the moon, astronomers say.  [Huge bright comet.  What could go wrong?]

The comet is already remarkably bright, given how far it is from the sun, astronomer Raminder Singh Samra said. What’s more, 2012 S1 seems to be following the path of the Great Comet of 1680, considered one of the most spectacular ever seen from Earth.

“If it lives up to expectations, this comet may be one of the brightest in history,” said Samra, of the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre in Vancouver, Canada.  [And then the running and screaming begins, and the doom and rapidly deployed space shuttles… no wait… we don’t have any.  We don’t have any civilian shuttles.]

So what makes a comet a showstopper? A lot depends on how much gas and dust is blasted off [rather like the DNC…] the central core of ice and rocks. The bigger the resulting cloud and tail, the more reflective the body may be.

Because 2012 S1 appears to be fairly large—possibly approaching two miles (three kilometers) wide [We are clearly doomed.   Doomed.] and will fly very close to the sun, astronomers have calculated that the comet may shine brighter, though not bigger, than the full moon in the evening sky.


As the sun’s gravity pulls the comet closer, it should pass about 6.2 million miles (10 million kilometers) from Mars—possibly a unique photo opportunity for NASA’s new Curiosity rover.  [That’s pretty cool.]

Current orbital predictions indicate the comet will look brightest to us in the weeks just after its closest approach to the sun, on November 28, 2013—if 2012 S1 survives the experience.


Since this is Friday, and since we know we are all going to die, this is a great opportunity to remind you to buy some Mystic Monk Coffee (HERE), send me a donation – because the comet is coming and you won’t need it – and then to …


Some of you may have a lot of sins weighing you down.


Most parishes have some opportunities for confession on Saturdays.


Seriously, we don’t know the day or the hour.  Use the Sacrament of Penance well.  This is how the Lord Himself wanted us to return to a proper relationship with Himself and Holy Church and our neighbor, both near and far.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Global Killer Asteroid Questions, GO TO CONFESSION, Just Too Cool, Lighter fare, Look! Up in the sky!, The future and our choices and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Gregg the Obscure says:

    After the hype for Comets Hale-Bopp and Kahoutek, I’m a bit dubious. Just about the big comet, though. Completely agree that death and judgment are coming without a prior appointment and that regular confession is essential. All holy priests who read this blog, please be generous in making opportunities for confession available!

  2. JohnE says:

    We’re all going to die, and every second is the end of the world as we know it.

  3. The Masked Chicken says:

    For those who want to try their hand at omething hunting, the rule is: you find it, you name it. There is a growing trend for science educators to try to get the general public interested in “citizen science.” Here are two cool sites to interest your kids in:

    The Chicken

  4. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    “Current orbital predictions indicate the comet will look brightest to us in the weeks just after its closest approach to the sun, on November 28, 2013—if 2012 S1 survives the experience.”

    Oh no, it might melt!

    Couldn’t that nice Mr. Hansen launch a spectacularly expensive ‘anthropogenic comic rescue’ program?

  5. tstracey says:

    Fr. Z,
    I love how you take every opportunity to remind us all to go to confession!
    Thank you :)

  6. Clinton says:

    … no wait… we don’t have any. We don’t have any civilian shuttles.

    In an interview with Al Jazeera, NASA administrator Charles Bolden mentioned that President
    Obama informed him that one of the agency’s foremost goals was to reach out to the Muslim
    world and help them feel good about their historic contributions to science and engineering.

    Evidently NASA doesn’t need shuttles, or much of a budget, to do that.

  7. dominicansoul says:

    But Fr. Z, you know we need to go through the 3 days of darkness, right ;)

  8. Athelstan says:

    “As the sun’s gravity pulls the comet closer, it should pass about 6.2 million miles (10 million kilometers) from Mars—possibly a unique photo opportunity for NASA’s new Curiosity rover. ”

    Assuming Curiosity is still operational at that time. It has a projected four year life expectancy, and its predecessors have typically outlasted their expected lifespans, but…

    But we are likely to get better shots from the three orbiters currently in Mars orbit – no atmosphere to get in the way.

    I hope it’s as bright as they say. I remember my disappointment with Halley in 1986 and Hale-Bopp. We haven’t had a really bright comet in our lifetimes.

  9. St. Epaphras says:

    Dear Fr. Z –
    Thanks once again for mention of Death/Confession. Thinking of death helped push me toward finally converting. Did not want to die without Confession! Same effect now only it’s more like “don’t want to die with ‘that’ sin on my soul”, or “with ‘that’ stinking attitude”.

  10. Tradster says:

    Coming at the holiday season…brighter than the moon…visible for a few months, say, long enough to travel by…hmmm…The Star of Bethlehem returns, perhaps?

  11. Will D. says:

    Comet Hyakutake in 1996 was terrific. It peaked right around Holy Week, I remember marveling at it in the parking lot of the church after leaving either Holy Thursday Mass or the Easter Vigil.

  12. AnnAsher says:

    @Tradster, Hmmmm ?

  13. PostCatholic says:

    Again, Randall Monroe of XKCD has solved the problem, sorta.

  14. PostCatholic:

    I don’t get this one, I’m afraid. There is something about it that rings a bell, but I am not tracking today.

  15. Neal says:

    Le Petit Prince va aller BOOM!

  16. Skeinster says:

    Looking forward to this one. My husband dragged me and his telescope out to a freezing cold field to see Kahoutek, which looked, to my untutored eyes, like a piece of dryer lint.
    Always thankful for our priests who diligently hear confessions before, after, and sometimes during, Mass. Once thanked Father for that and he said that after celebrating Mass, hearing confessions was the best part of being a priest.

  17. Mike says:

    Re: the cartoon – perhaps it is making a point of the irony of the Earth-bound staff claiming ‘we’re heroes’ while no mention is made of the sacrifice of the astronauts, the greater heroes.
    It could easily be extended to the common, selfish disregard of Christ’s saving sacrifice.

  18. PostCatholic says:

    It pokes gentle fun at Deep Impact, a movie in which an asteroid is improbably blown up using a similar method, and The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s modern spiritual classic in which the eponymous character is from an asteroid.

    Read some Antoine de Saint-Exupéry! You will find much worthy stuff to mull over in his books.

  19. Random Friar says:

    What would moviemakers do without nukes? A multitude of small rocket thrusters just isn’t good eye candy.

    Knowing our luck, the comet will hit Mars, right on top of the poor probe we just spent a billion + to send there.

  20. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    That vivid and delightful writer (and Free French pilot), Antoine Marie Jean-Baptiste Roger, was also the Count de Saint Exupéry – but from what and which St. Exupéry does that title derive? A place, from the dedication of its church? – to the St. Exuperius who was a Companion to St. Maurice whose Feast is also 22 September? or the St. Exuperius to whom (L. Kelly tells us in his 1909 Catholic Encyclopedia article) St. Jerome dedicated his Commentary on Zacharias and upon whose Feast this post was posted (28 Sept.)?

  21. BLB Oregon says:

    A civilian shuttle? Why? Where would anyone go? Besides, primary calculations put the comet, at its closest, at roughly 37 million miles away from Earth. The moon is roughly 220,000-250,000 miles away (give or take) and 2160 miles across.

    But yes, we’re doomed and we ought to go to confession.
    As Earl from Brian Crane’s “Pickles” famously told his wife Opal:
    “You worry too much, you know.
    Most of the stuff you worry about never happens
    and most of the stuff that happens, you never worried about.”

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