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National Museum of Natural Science, Taiwan*
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Comet ISON
The 2nd Floor, Global Environment Hall
October 25, 2013 - Mid June, 2014

When beggars die, there are no comets seen. The heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes
─ William Shakespeare ─

C/2012 S1, also known as Comet ISON, is a sungrazing comet discovered on 21 September 2012 by Vitali Nevski and Artyom Novichonok. The discovery was made using the 0.4-meter reflector of the International Scientific Optical Network (ISON) near Kiislovodsk, Russia. Excitement is riding high in the astronomical community with the discovery, which is destined to pass exceedingly close to the Sun in late November 2013 and might possibly become dazzlingly bright.

Comet ISON is not an ordinary comet! In fact, it is a very interesting comet with plenty of potential for both experts and millions of stargazers. It is called the "Comet of the Century". The latest information issued by NASA suggests that this comet could get as bright as nearly full moon! That means Comet ISON would be bright enough to be visible during the daytime. Comets that are visible to the naked eye during the daytime are rare. Predicting the brightness of a comet is difficult. If predictions hold true, Comet ISON will certainly be one of the greatest comets in human history.

Will Comet ISON be a great comet? Let's wait and see! In response to the ISON fever, the National Museum of Natural Science presents Comet ISON special exhibition. Comet ISON is of course the major focus of the exhibition. In addition to many great comets such as West Comet, Comet McNaught, Hale-Bopp comet, Comet of 1106…etc., the exhibition also introduces meteors and meteor showers, and their relation to comets.

Comet ISON
West comet
Comet ISON
Comet McNaught
Comet ISON
Hale-Bopp comet

Comet ISON
Chen (right) in Gallery
"According to the latest news, Comet ISON continues to gradually brighten up, and is behaving almost exactly as we expect a dynamically new comet to behave. It's still in one piece, and is beginning to show an extended coma and increasingly lengthening tail," said Dr. Chen Hwei-hwa, Curator at the Museum's Exhibition Division and the organizer of the exhibition, at the opening reception. "Will Comet ISON break apart? Will a piece of it strike the Earth, other planets or the Sun? What if it does break apart and its nucleus explodes into small chunks as it swings around the Sun? Will it threaten our planet?" Chen offered questions. "To follow its travels, we bring the up-to-date information once a week," added Chen, "It is hoped that our visitors would raise their heads to observe comets with us instead of lowering their heads to play their ipad games alone."

Comet ISON
Sun at Reception
"Comets or hairy stars have been interpreted as omens of disaster for millennia, used by prophets and sibyls to foretell plagues, wars and the death of kings. The fall of Jerusalem in 66, the collapse of the Hun King in 450, the Battle of Hastings in 1066, and Turkish forces laid siege to Belgrade in 1456 were all blamed for Halley's comet," said Dr. Sun Wei-hsin, an astronomer and the Museum's Director. "Comets' influence on cultures is not limited simply to tales of myth and legend, though. Comets throughout history have been blamed for earthquakes, illnesses, and many bizarre things until… Edmond Halley stated that the comet which had appeared in 1531, 1607 and 1682 would reappear in 1758. Halley made the prediction in 1705, and he was proven to be correct. The comet did return in 1758. Astronomy communities around the globe have started to pay attention to comet-related researches ever since," added Sun. "People are often curious about space," Sun stressed, "Our goal is to engage our visitors through exhibits that spark an interest in that topic. Exhibition like Comet ISON ignites that interest and makes our visitors want to learn more."

In addition to introducing the whole story about the comet including its structure, components, its relationship with solar system, many of its legends and new discoveries through photographs, illustrations, and interactive games, the exhibition which runs from 25th October, 2013 - Mid June, 2014 will be accompanied by a whole range of outreach events from free star observation to a series of lectures.

Comet ISON designed for children and adults to explore the wonder of space will shake your nerves and rattle your brain as you learn so much from it. Visitors can determine if scenes from popular movies are science fiction or science fact. Join us!

  •  Admission is free with gallery tickets.

Comet ISON is organized and presented by the National Museum of Natural Science in Taichung, Taiwan.