Catching the tail of Comet ISON
While comets have been blamed for spawning plagues, assassinations, red rains, war failures and even births of two-headed animals, these small astral bodies most likely are harmless dirty balls of ice that pay our orbit a visit once in a while.
This year, Comet ISON may become one of the most picturesque night-time views in decades, making it perfect subject matter for astro-photography buffs worldwide. That's why the National Science Foundation (NSF) and Astronomy Magazine have teamed up to celebrate Comet ISON's arrival and are sponsoring a photography contest from October through mid-January.
So far, Comet ISON has only been visible by telescope, but soon it should be viewable with binoculars and ultlimately with the naked eye from dark locations with low levels of light pollution. According to Astronomy Magazine, on Dec. 8, Comet ISON crosses into the northern sky, where it should shine brighter than 1st magnitude and perhaps sport a spectacular tail. The magazine's editors predict Northern Hemisphere viewers will get increasingly better views as the December holiday season approaches.
Amateur and professional photographers worldwide can submit images online at NSF's Comet ISON photo contest page through Jan. 15, 2014. The contest is divided into three categories:
First prize in each category is $2,500. Second prize is $1,000. In addition to the six prize winners, website visitors will choose an additional "People's Choice" award worth $1,500.Comet ISON photo contest page.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2016, its budget is $7.5 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 48,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards. NSF also awards about $626 million in professional and service contracts yearly.
Useful NSF Web Sites: