Rabu, 27 November 2013

Comet Ison

Comet Ison - Part 1 of 6 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! BlogSpot

Municipal Christmas tree decoration
My local municipal Christmas tree -
or is there an astronomer
on the team?

Comet Ison is presently passing through the earth’s orbit and will slingshot round the sun on 28 November 2013*, much to the delight of astronomers and stargazers, both professional and amateur, in observatories all over the world. Its name is an acronym of International Scientific Optical Network and was discovered on 12 September 2012* by two Russian astronomers using that establishment’s telescope, Vitali Nevski and Artyom Novichonok. Information from Nasa’s Swift satellite has enabled scientists to estimate its size as 3 miles in diameter, calculated by measuring the amount of ice and dust emitted from its surface. Nasa’s Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO) is monitoring the event, with images and video beamed from its spacecraft’s Heliospheric* Imager showing the comet’s progress towards the sun.

*Long slash representing current century, see www.long-live-pitmans-shorthand.org.uk/vocabulary-numbers.htm#long-slash

*heliosphere – the sun’s magnetic field, the extent of the solar wind, from “helios”, this outline is based on the dictionary outline for "helispheric" which has a different meaning = spiral shaped, from “helix”

Comet Ison - Part 2 of 6 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! BlogSpot

"Comet" dry cleaner's shop
No dirty comets here

Comets are composed of ice, rock and metal, in fact all the materials left over from the formation of the planets of the solar system, and have been humorously described as “dirty snowballs”. It appears that Comet Ison is only passing through our solar system, and is not in an elliptical orbit that would bring it back this way again in the future. During the month of October the comet has brightened to magnitude 10*, and it may be possible to see it using ordinary binoculars. However, as it travels towards and behind the sun, the glare will obscure it and followers are advised to cease trying to observe it with the naked eye. Advances in telescopes and imaging technology will allow scientists to analyse the behaviour and composition of the comet, and spectrometry will provide information on the water signature of its ices.

*Always insert vowel in outline for "ten" to distinguish it from "eighteen"

Comet Ison - Part 3 of 6 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! BlogSpot

Snowball-shaped Christmas decoration
Cometary disruption in the
Christmas decorations department

Its speed has increased from 95,000* mph at the beginning of November to 845,000 mph when it catapults around the Sun at perihelion (the point closest to the sun). It will pass within 730,000 miles of the sun on 28 November, and on its return journey will pass within approximately 40 million* miles of the northern hemisphere of earth on 26 December, and travel back roughly the way it came. It is possible that* it will be visible to the naked eye between the middle of November and the middle of January. This comet is a “sungrazer” and there is the possibility that its close fiery encounter with the sun will break it up, the intense sunlight heating its surface to a temperature approaching 5,000 degrees Centigrade, speeding up the vaporisation of its exterior ice and the gravitational pull of the sun deforming its shape and pulling it apart – termed cometary disruption and spontaneous disintegration.

*Ith and Em alone would mean "thousand million"

* "it is possible that" - ensure the first circle S is clear. If it resembles a hook, that would mean "it appears that"

Comet Ison - Part 4 of 6 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! BlogSpot

This local business vaporised
last year under the intense heat
of the economic conditions

There is also the chance that the whole comet may vaporise, which will be somewhat of a disappointment to the many observers who will be waiting expectantly for it to reappear from behind the sun. However, astronomers are agreed that any fragments would continue to follow the same trajectory and so pose no threat to planet earth. As Ison emerges from the glare of the sun’s corona, assuming that it survives the encounter, the 8 million mile long tail will become visible first, as it always follows the direction of the solar wind, followed by the gossamer green atmosphere (coma*) of the nucleus. The best time to view it will be in the morning before sunrise on the eastern horizon. By Christmas it will have climbed higher in the sky and so remain visible throughout the night.

*Insert the first vowel, so it does not get misread as "comet"

Comet Ison - Part 5 of 6 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! BlogSpot

Snowflake decoration stickers on shop window
Unimaginable cold of deep space has
arrived at the shopping centre

This Comet of the Century, as it is being called by the press, originates from the Oort Cloud, a belt of trillions of ice and rock fragments – possible future comets – at a distance of one light year* from the sun, on the edge of the solar system. After 4.5 billion years in that deep freeze, it is now hurtling towards a near miss with the furnace of the sun, and in the process providing a wonderful opportunity for astronomers and amateurs to practise their observational and predictive skills, as well as a hoped-for spectacular light show. You as a shorthand writer have also been given a great opportunity, as the many scientific news articles offer quite a collection of words whose outlines use the initial stroke Ess. Here is your “ought” cloud, which you may consider* you ought to practise, all spread out for you in a long line just like the comet’s watery tail, trailing into space in glorious and luminous magnificence:

  • Ison, ice, icy, isotropic, astronomy, astronomic, astronomical, astronomer, astrometry, astronaut, astrophysics
  • asteroid, aster, easterly, east, eastern, eastwards, ascend/ascent, ascertain, assortment, science, scientist, scientific, scientifically

* "light year" - you could also use Yay and Ray joined to "light", which would be quicker to write - similar to the outline for "lawyer"

* "you may consider" - if you join on the "consider " part, it would look like "you must consider". If you had already written it all as one outline, then you would need to put the vowel after the Em to prevent misreading.

Comet Ison - Part 6 of 6 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! BlogSpot

Fizzers sweets packet
Disintegrates nicely on the tongue
I know you will be writing all these examples millions if not billions and trillions of times, and your shorthand pen will be travelling across the page at an astronomically high rate, close to the speed of light, and may even start to glow in the dark, perhaps rivalling our rare and honoured heavenly visitor in scintillating brilliance and luminosity. Everyone wants a dazzling display from Comet Ison, although I suspect* it will fade rapidly from the news by next month. However, unlike the ephemeral enthusiasm of the news media, you and your expanded shorthand knowledge will definitely not* fizzle out, diminish, break up under pressure, evaporate under the intense heat of the moment, or disappear once again into the obscurity and inky-black darkness of deep space. On the contrary, you will have improved your shorthand ability and attained a reputation of radiant splendour, allowing your skills to shine brightly, through both the day and night-time, for many years to come. (910 words)

* "suspect" - the contraction is used only for the verb. The noun is a full outline.

* Hook N and halving used to represent "not"

Get all the facts and updates at:


Christmas reindeer models in shop window
No need to worry about Comet, every child will tell you
that he is perfectly capable of circling the sun harmlessly,
as long as he gets his breakfast of reindeer moss

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